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How does diabetes cause one foot to swell?

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Swelling in the feet and ankles can be a symptom of kidney disease, which is a complication of diabetes, according to The New York Times. Known as edema, this swelling is caused by a buildup of fluids that is further aggravated by standing for long periods of time, reports Diabetes.co.uk. In people with kidney disease, edema can also be worsened by a high sodium diet.

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Treating edema typically consists of regular physical activity combined with a lowered salt intake and a reduced amount of time spent standing, states Diabetes.co.uk. For overweight patients, weight loss can help reduce fluid retention. Diuretics are available to help flush water from the system and can be prescribed as a treatment.

Swelling in the feet may also be a symptom of Charcot foot, a disorder that appears in people with significant nerve damage, notes the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Diabetics are at an increased risk of developing Charcot foot due to the effect of diabetes on the nervous system. Other symptoms of Charcot foot include redness, soreness and elevated temperature in the affected foot. In some cases, the deformity may progress unchecked until amputation becomes necessary, making prevention and early diagnosis crucial. Treatment typically consists of immobilization, customized shoes or surgery.

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