Swollen feet, ankles and legs can give you the blues. The oftentimes uncomfortable swelling is a common problem, especially in older folks. Swelling or edema happens when the body retains fluid in the lower legs, ankles, and feet. Standing or sitting for too long, aging, lack of exercise, illnesses like heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes, or poor blood circulation can contribute to the swelling. There are a few home remedies you can try that can help relieve the swelling:
Elevate your legs: While lying flat on your back, try raising your legs (with pillows) to above the level of your heart. If you have a hospital bed, raise the bottom half of it. Elevating your legs will help the extra fluid to travel back towards the heart for circulation to the rest of the body. If you are sitting in a chair, use a stool with pillows on top to elevate your legs.
Show your limbs some love. Try going old school and soak your swollen dogs in Epsom salt to reduce swelling and improve circulation. Add a half-a-cup of the salt to a tub of warm water and soak your feet in it for a good 20 minutes. Do this at least three times a week. If you have diabetic neuropathy in your feet, check the water with your hands first to avoid exposing your feet to extreme temps.
Massage those tootsies. Rubbing your feet with feel-good potions like coconut, tea tree, or almond oil can relax them, improve blood circulation, and help get rid of excess fluid. Apply the warmed up oil in an upward direction using firm pressure, do this every night before you bathe.
Cut down your salt intake. Too much salt can lead to fluid retention in the body. Kick such high salt ‘bad-for-you’ food items like canned, packaged and processed foods, fast foods, and sodas to the curb!
Hop on the magnesium train. African-Americans are known to be seriously impacted by many chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart, and kidney disease. Lower levels of magnesium have been associated with an increased prevalence of hypertension, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Magnesium is essential to health, but nearly half of all Americans aren’t meeting their daily needs. The supplement helps to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate and nerve transmission. Adding 200 to 400 mg of magnesium to a daily diet can help limit water retention and pain. FIRST, talk to your doctor before taking the supplement because it is not recommended for those with kidney or heart conditions. It’s also essential to include magnesium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, soybeans, avocados, bananas, and even dark chocolate.
Consider compression socks. These special kinds of socks can be purchased at a medical supply store, pharmacy or online as well. Compression socks apply gentle pressure to the legs, feet, and ankles to provide pain relief but combat swelling. They are available in various sizes, but be sure to select a pair that is NOT too tight for your legs. Your physician can recommend the compression level or how tight the socks will be. The four levels range from mild (8-15 mmHg) to extra firm (30-40 mmHg). They should be worn as long as they can be tolerated beginning first thing in the morning.
Keep it moving. Don’t sit or stand in one spot for too long; move it! Flex your toes, move ankles, and legs for relief. Try to move a little bit each hour, even if it’s a walk to the kitchen, around the block, or lap around an office.
Down 8 to 10 glasses of water. Believe it or not, getting enough fluids actually helps reduce swelling. When your body isn’t hydrated enough, it holds onto the fluid it does have, and swelling can take place.
Drink parsley! Parsley is a natural diuretic and can help the body get rid of any extra fluid, especially around your feet. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties can help a great deal in reducing any pain and redness. Boil one tablespoon of dried parsley leaves in a cup of hot water, strain and let it cool. Drink this twice daily until you find relief.
Eat ginger. A natural diuretic, ginger helps dilute sodium, which aids in the swelling process. Try drinking ginger tea at least two to three times daily, or chewing raw slices of ginger to help get rid of the swelling.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) wraps. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has a high amount of potassium, which can help bring down swelling. Soak a clean towel in equal parts of warm water and ACV. Squeeze out any excess fluid, then wrap your swollen areas in the soaked towel for about 20 minutes.