Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How do you make swelling go away?"
I got hit in the face with my friend's elbow when we were moving a couch and it made my cheek and jaw swell up. It has been three days and the swelling won't go away. How do you make swelling go away? Should I go to a doctor if the swelling doesn't go down?
It is no surprise that you developed some facial swelling as a result of this trauma, however you ask some good questions about how best to decrease the swelling, and when to worry about it not going down. First of all soft tissue blunt trauma can potentially result in the rupture of some small blood vessels allowing seepage of blood into the interstitial tissues (called a hematoma, or "bruise"). This can take some time to resorb (a couple weeks). However even without a hematoma, tissue swelling as a result of blunt trauma can occur. Typically swelling reaches a maximum 48-72 hours after the incident. Conservative measures such as applying ice to the area (20 minutes on, 40 minutes off a few times a day), and using over the counter anti-inflammatories (like ibuprofen...just follow the instructions on the bottle) can help significantly. If the swelling seems to be getting rapidly worse, or if it is still significantly present for more than a week, then I think it makes sense to get evaluated by a physician. Also if you start to notice any functional problems (like chewing, etc) then you should definitely get evaluated. You can start with your primary care physician, but if you notice that the swelling is rapidly getting worse, then go right to the emergency department.
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