Edema, once known as dropsy in olden times, is the medical term for swelling. It occurs when an excess bodily fluid such as water and blood is trapped within the tissues of a certain part of the body, causing it to be protruded.
Depending on nature and cause, edema can either be painless or painful. For example, swelling caused by infection can bring about significant pain to the injury, accompanied by fever, sweating, and other symptoms. There are also times when edema could simply happen without warning, and one of the common causes is when your capillaries leak fluid, most likely blood, into your tissues. This can happen through strenuous exercises and is most common among athletes.
Another common cause of swelling is insect bites. This happens because insect saliva contains a significant amount of protein that prevents your blood from clotting. The swelling comes from the body’s reaction in defense against the proteins in the saliva.
Regardless of whether painless or not, swelling still brings about discomfort around the affected area. This could prevent you from wearing your favorite clothes for a couple of days, or even weeks. But there are a lot of ways to lessen that time, as well as ways to make them more bearable.
If painful, avoid touching the sore area. Protect it by wearing a loose clean sock if your foot is affected. When you sit or lie down, keep it elevated.
Sit or lie down
Rest is what your body needs to fight off the cause of the swelling. Staying still and comfortable also keeps the sore area safe. Also, it’s recommended that you keep your foot moving every now and then – it helps keep the swelling down. Lastly, avoid standing for an extended period of time as this puts the gravity of the fluids onto your foot.
Exercise is also recommended
While rest is advisable, you must keep your body moving to stay healthy and to reduce the gravity of fluids on your foot. It’s also important to know what type of exercise is more suitable. For example, it’s best to avoid yoga for a while as this involves having to stay in the same position for a few minutes. You may take a few jogs as well, as long as the swelling is on your ankle; not on your foot.
Submerge your foot in a basin of hot water
This is a common remedy for most types of swelling, and it makes the pain subside for a while. But do not use anything too hot that might cause scalding. The recommended temperature is lukewarm.
Drink plenty of fluids
This prevents any other complications caused by dehydration, such as making your edema worsen.
You may pop a few pills of painkiller to reduce the discomfort brought by edema. Aspirin, Advil, and naproxen are good painkillers. If your edema is brought by pregnancy, it is advised that you should consult your doctor before taking such medications. Applying liniment oils such as Efficacy and Chinese White Flower on the area of swelling could also be a good idea. These are made to combat all types of pain, and when aided with a comforting massage, can be a very good treatment for edema.
There are also several additional important yet easy to do steps to treat edema
- Keep your skin cool, especially if you live in an area of hot environments. Stay in your room with the air conditioner on, or open the windows. It’s best that you avoid heat for a while.
- If you must go out, you must know what to wear. Do not put on anything that’s too tight, such as yoga pants. Loose jogging pants and hoodies are recommended. Avoid wearing shoes if the swelled area is in your foot to avoid squeezing it and causing, even more, pain.
- Minimize your sodium intake. Swelling could also be occur due to high levels of sodium. Drinking water will flush out the excess sodium from your system. It’s advisable to add more fiber into your diet as well as this purges any unclean materials from your body, such as the excess fluid that is causing your edema. Choose water over any other beverages, as even the sweetest juices contain a small amount of sodium.
- Apply a cold compress or ice your swelled area. Hot temperatures will cause your edema to worsen, so combat it with a cold compress. You can either drench a towel with cold water or wrap a few ice cubes in a cloth and apply on the swelled area.
- Know when to use the cold and hot treatment. Applying a cold compress may be the best treatment when it comes to general swelling as high temperatures can worsen its condition. But this does not mean that submerging your foot in a basin of warm water is a bad idea. It’s important to know when to use the two treatments. Ice and cold compress reduces the blood flow around the injury, thus reducing the edema. But if the pain is persistent, heat promotes blood flow around the area of swelling and combats the pain.