Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why are my ankles and legs swollen?"
I am a 30 year old woman. For the past couple of weeks I have notice my ankles and legs have been swollen not every day though. I have an office job and sit down most of the day. I work six days a week and long hours, I have gained weight the past couple of years. I have never had this problem before even when I was a cashier and on my feet all day. I am not on any medication.
Ankle swelling is a common problem. This can represent both very minor conditions, as well as very serious medical problems that require further attention. For your people, the most common cause of leg swelling is varicose veins. This is a condition where the veins in the legs -- the blood vessels that return blood from the foot to the heart -- become weakened over time and therefore cannot bring the fluid back. The fluid then remains in the legs. Often the skin will have bluish spider looking veins on it. Often this can be treated by a small dose of a water pill, but occasionally this requires surgery or injections. There are other serious causes of swelling that require evaluation. There are three big causes (1) heart failure -- the heart muscle can't pump blood so it pools in the legs (2) Liver failure -- the liver can't make the appropriate proteins so fluid leaks out to the legs and (3) Kidney failure -- the kidneys lose protein and can't get rid of fluid so it builds up. There are some other rare causes, but these big three require evaluation. Talk to your primary care doctor. This requires evaluation and possible treatment. Good luck!
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