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What should we do with swelling? (Part 1)

Swelling is a blanket term that could mean the enlargement of just about any area of the body. It could be caused by being hit with an object or bumping into one. Swelling could be the result of a sprain or strain on your joints. It could also be environmental, hormonal, or the result of an allergic reaction. Swelling can be a part of inflammation, though it isn’t always the same thing. Inflammation is the body’s response to a problem, such as a foreign substance or an open wound; it is part of the healing process.

Swelling can sometimes just be a collection of fluid around a site in the body, in which case it is called edema.

If the swelling is around the abdomen, it can be the result of something as benign as intestinal bloat or premenstrual water retention, or the product of a more serious condition.

As you can see, swelling covers a wide range of possibilities, and the idea of being able to get rid of swelling with one methodology is ridiculous. This article will be divided into the most common types of swelling, their probable causes, and the best available information on getting rid of them.

Getting Rid of Swelling

Swelling due to problems with circulation. There are dozens of ways that our body’s circulatory system can become impaired in such a way that it causes localized and generalized swelling. Listed here are a few of the most common ailments.

Pregnancy. In the case of pregnant women, it is very common for there to be added pressure to the circulatory system as the baby grows inside. This usually causes fluid to collect in the lower extremities (ankles, feet). As annoying and odd looking as it might be, localized swelling is to be expected. You can lessen it by trying to stay off your feet, stretching often, elevating your legs when sitting, sleeping on your left side, and staying cool and hydrated during the summer months.

If there is swelling in other parts of the body—such as the face and hands—it could be a sign of another very dangerous condition called preeclampsia. Should swelling occur above the belly, you need to get to the doctor right away for further testing.

Clots. The restriction of blood flow due to clotting is known as thrombosis. In the worst cases, those clots can travel into the lungs or brain causing embolisms or strokes, which are potentially fatal and a bunch of other bad stuff. They are treatable with anticoagulants, and Vitamin E is said to be helpful with thrombosis. In any case, this is something you need to discuss with your doctor.

Peripheral Artery Disease. This is becoming more and more common with the growing diabetes problem. Other symptoms of PAD, besides swelling, include: soreness in the lower extremities, discoloration of the skin, wounds that are slow to heal, numbness, and tingling sensations. Treatment involves identifying the underlying condition, most likely diabetes, which is something that goes beyond the scope of a web article. Talk to your doctor.

Hypertension and heart failure. Hypertension, or high-blood pressure, can be caused by many things, though it is often undiagnosed until it has damaged the body beyond repair. It is good practice to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis.

If it seems to be creeping upwards, there are steps you can take to keep it in check: lower your salt and fat intake, quit smoking, get more exercise, and try to lose some weight.

In more severe cases, there are pharmaceuticals that will help you to lower your blood pressure. A failing heart is a less efficient heart, and, subsequently, blood pressure is increased as it is unable to pump blood normally. Treatments are generally similar in nature to other blood pressure problems, but can include the use of pacemakers or organ transplantation.

Swelling due to an injury. The body’s natural response to an injury is to flood the area with liquid called serum (a part of the blood), which helps protect the area and start the healing process. That is why swelling is so often associated with injuries.

Contusions. These can range from a relatively minor bruise to a head injury involving a concussion, so it’s hard to generalize a treatment. You will need to analyze the situation: if it’s more than just a bruise or involves a blow to the head, go to the doctor. Otherwise, follow the Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation treatment plan. Swelling should be minimized with the application of ice, and, if re-injury is avoided, the bruise should heal itself in a week or two.

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