Swelling is the enlargement of organs, skin, or other body parts. It is caused by a buildup of fluid in the tissues. The extra fluid can lead to a rapid increase in weight over a short period of time (days to weeks)C
Swelling can occur all over the body (generalized) or only in one part of the body (localized).
Slight swelling (edema) of the lower legs is common in warm summer months, especially if a person has been standing or walking a lot.
General swelling, or massive edema (also called anasarca), is a common sign in people who are very sick. Although slight edema may be hard to detect, a large amount of swelling is very obvious.
Edema is described as pitting or non-pitting.
Pitting edema leaves a dent in the skin after you press the area with a finger for about 5 seconds. The dent will slowly fill back in.
Non-pitting edema does not leave this type of dent when pressing on the swollen area.
Burns, including sunburn
Chronic kidney disease
Liver failure from cirrhosis
Too little albumin in the blood (hypoalbuminemia)
Too much salt or sodium
Use of certain drugs, including Androgenic and anabolic steroids
- Calcium channel blockers
- Certain blood pressure medicines
- Corticosteroids such as prednisone
- Diabetes medicines called thiazolidinediones
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations. If you have long-term swelling, ask your doctor about the options to prevent skin breakdown, such as:
Lamb’s wool pad
Continue with your everyday activities. When lying down, keep your arms and legs above your heart level, if possible, so the fluid can drain. However, do not do this if you get shortness of breath. See your doctor instead.