What Causes Legs to Swell?


Quick Answer

Leg injuries, leg infections, leg surgery, certain medications and blood clots in the leg may cause a leg to swell, according to MedlinePlus. Aging and problems with the heart, liver or kidney may cause legs to swell. The swelling may spread to other areas, including thighs and calves.

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Full Answer

Sitting or standing for a long time may cause fluid buildup, resulting in a swollen leg, notes MedlinePlus. Pregnancy and menstruation may also lead to the problem. Toxemia that occurs during pregnancy may result in extreme swelling of legs. Heart failure or kidney failure can also trigger fluid retention in the legs. Leg swelling may indicate that the veins are failing to pump blood back to the heart.

Medications that can induce leg swelling include steroids and blood pressure medicines such as felodipine, isradipine, amlodipine, nicardipine and diltiazem, explains MedlinePlus. Antidepressants, such as tricyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, as well as hormones, including testosterone and estrogen may also result in leg swelling.

A patient with a swollen leg should lie down and elevate the leg above his heart, advises MedlinePlus. The patient can also put on support stockings, exercise the leg, undertake weight loss activities and eat foods that contain less salt. While travelling, the patient should move often to prevent fluid buildup in the legs. The individual should seek medical attention if he experiences a fever, chest pain or difficulty breathing.

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