Your feet and ankles look normal in the morning. By day's end they're swollen, and you can't wait to get your shoes off.
Swelling (edema) results from fluid buildup in the tissues. Gravity pulls the fluids to your feet and ankles, causing them to swell. The October 2004 issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers these tips to reduce swelling:

  • Cut back on salt -- Salt contributes to fluid retention.

  • Put your feet up -- Lying on your back, rest your feet at least 12 inches above the level of your heart for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a day.

  • Use support stockings -- Roll these on in the morning to promote circulation and limit gravitation movement of fluids. Most medical supply or drug stores carry these.

  • Exercise regularly -- This improves circulation.

  • Lose excess weight -- Excess weight slows circulation of body fluids and puts extra pressure on your veins.

  • Avoid long periods of sitting -- Every one or two hours, get up and walk.

  • Review your medication with your doctors -- Certain drugs, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and calcium channel blockers, can contribute to swelling.

  • See a doctor if you have persistent swelling, swelling accompanied by shortness of breath and weight gain, or swelling that damages the skin.

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