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What causes swollen legs in the elderly?

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Quick Answer

Swollen legs in elderly people are mainly due to venous insufficiency, kidney problems or heart failure, states Seniorhealth365. Joint swelling, especially in the toe, and fractures of bone due to bone conditions such as osteoporosis cause swollen legs in the elderly as do medications, such as those for diabetes or hypertension.

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Full Answer

Retention of fluid in the leg tissues due to disease or simply sitting or standing for extended periods may also result in swollen legs, claims Mayo Clinic. Factors that may cause fluid retention vary greatly and include venous insufficiency, thrombophlebitis and hormone therapy. Inflammation in the leg tissues also generates swelling of the legs. Such inflammation may result from gout, a Baker’s cyst, a wound, rheumatoid arthritis and knee bursitis. The swelling may be painless, according to MedlinePlus. Though not common among the elderly, being overweight may also cause swelling of the feet.

Sitting with the legs raised above the heart to fight gravity is a simple home care remedy, advises MedlinePlus. Following a low-salt diet prevents fluid buildup. If the swollen leg appears red or warm, then immediate medical attention is in order. Shortness of breath or fever suspected to be due to the swollen legs also requires immediate medical care.

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