What Causes Leg Swelling in The Elderly? And how to fix it.

Let’s say, you’re slipping on your shoe. And then it doesn’t fit. You try again but this time you feel like you’re in a twisted version of Cinderella. 

More practically, you might be able to gather that it’s leg swelling. You ask  yourself; how did this happen? And, more specifically, does it have something to do with my age? 

Is there a name for what causes swollen ankles?

There are a few reasons why your legs are swelling or, to use its scientific name, why you’re experiencing leg edema[1]. Here’s a clue-it’s to do with what’s going on in your blood vessels. Larger amounts of fluid passing out from them can cause tissue swelling which, in turn, causes your legs to swell up.

Why does it happen?

Five causes of swollen legs in the elderly.

#1 Chronic Venous Insufficiency

One of the most common causes of leg swelling in the elderly would be Chronic Venous Insufficiency; which is to do with the state of valves in blood vessels. As we age, the valves in our veins start to weaken and blood begins to collect in them for longer periods. The effects of this could also manifest in the forms of skin ulcers, inflamed veins and skin infections.

#2 Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure may also have something to do with your leg swelling and a history of heart disease may be an indicator that it does. But why?

With CHF your heart chambers can become less adept at pumping blood which can cause leg swelling as blood collects in your lower extremities. As a result of CHF, fluid can also gather in the lungs and cause pulmonary edema[2] along with shortness of breath.

#3 As a result of medication

Swollen legs can be caused or aggravated by some types of medication such as antihypertensive drugs like calcium channel blockers[3], estrogens, steroid drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs like painkillers.[4]

#4 Liver Disease

Swelling around the stomach can be caused by cirrhosis of the liver[5] which may result in lower blood protein levels. This, in turn, leads to fluid leaking out into interstitial spaces thereby causing leg and abdomen swelling.

#5 Lymphedema

Be on the lookout for this especially if you have a history of cancer or lymph node surgery. Swelling happens when the lymph system is overloaded with fluid and when lymph nodes get damaged as a result of cancer.

Now we’ve reached the best part. Solutions to your leg swelling are as important as figuring out the causes of it.

Treatments for swollen legs in the elderly.

We’ve curated our top three home remedies for swollen legs. 

#1 Good Old Leg Elevation

One of the simplest treatments for leg swelling would be to raise the height of your legs to your chest level for thirty minutes three or four times a day. You might be wondering how this helps. One word: gravity. This easy technique ensures that blood is drained from your legs and ankles to your heart. It’s also a good excuse for lounging around.

#2 Pull on Those Stockings

More specifically, stockings that end just below the knee are ideal for remedying swollen legs. Low pressure stockings can be bought at drug stores without a prescription. If you have moderate to severe leg and ankle swelling, you might have to be fitted out for a stocking first.

#3 Get those Calf Muscles Going

This remedy is particularly useful for those with Chronic Venous Insufficiency and for ulcer removal. Are there any exercises that would help in particular? If you’re looking for a simple exercise that you can carry out while lying down, you might want to try ankle pumping. This is when you point your toes up towards your head and then down away from your head while solely using your feet. 

 Home Remedies for Leg Swelling

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1 https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/edema-overview#:~:text=Severe%20liver%20disease%2C%20such%20as,can%20also%20cause%20leg%20edema

2 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/edema/symptoms-causes/syc-20366493#:~:text=Congestive%20heart%20failure.,cause%20swelling%20in%20your%20abdomen

[1] https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/edema-overview#:~:text=Severe%20liver%20disease%2C%20such%20as,can%20also%20cause%20leg%20edema

[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/edema/symptoms-causes/syc-20366493#:~:text=Congestive%20heart%20failure.,cause%20swelling%20in%20your%20abdomen.

[3] https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/edema-overview#:~:text=Severe%20liver%20disease%2C%20such%20as,can%20also%20cause%20leg%20edema

[4]

[5] https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/leg-swelling-in-aging/

 

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