What is Swelling?

Swelling, otherwise known as edema, is an enlargement or distention of body tissue caused by fluid trapped in the spaces between your cells. This fluid is contained in the lymphatic system and is responsible for helping the body fight off diseases and cleanse out toxins. Swelling can vary in severity from subtle puffiness of your extremities to larger, uncomfortable and painful areas of inflammation.

Common Causes of Swelling

Common causes of swelling include:

  • Injury
  • Pregnancy
  • Side effects of medications
  • Infections
  • Immune system disorders
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Digestive issues
  • Allergies or sensitivities
  • Dehydration

Signs and Symptoms of Swelling

The most common signs and symptoms of swelling include:

  • Bruising
  • Redness of the area
  • Tenderness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Feeling of pressure
  • Pain
  • Puffiness
  • Increased temperature of the skin
  • Skin that looks shiny or stretched
  • Discoloration of the skin

Treating Swelling

The treatment for swelling depends on the cause but may include:

  • Resting the affected area
  • Elevating the area to reduce inflammation
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen
  • Applying ice packs to the area
  • Taking a warm bath or using a heating pad on the affected area
  • Avoiding standing or sitting for extended periods of time
  • Changing positions often
  • Gently stretching and massage of the affected area
  • Compression bandages or stockings
  • Surgery to remove excess fluid in severe cases