Swelling is an abnormal or unusual enlargement of your organs, skin or any other body parts that occurs as a reaction by the body in response to an injury or fluid accumulation.
Swelling can either be internal or external. While external swelling is often due to an injury, internal swelling can be a side effect of a medication.
A variety of reasons can cause swelling, like, injuries, pregnancy, hormonal changes, menstruation, illnesses, medications and insect bites. If your swelling is caused due to injury, insect bite or illness, swelling is likely to accompanied by
- Pain in the affected area
If the swelling is the result of a medication or it is internal, you might experience
How to Treat Swelling?
While internal swelling might need medical attention, external swelling is less dangerous and can often be treated at home. Some of the remedies you can try out at home are:
Rest the Affected Area
Our body has mechanism in place to self heal a lot of issues; swelling being one of them. Proper rest can help reduce the swelling, especially in the case of tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and bursitis.
Swelling from sprains, external injuries can all be abated with rest for 2 – 3 days. Keep the area safe from being accidentally hit and avoid painful movements to see conclusive results.
Apply Ice – packs
You can use ice – packs, ice cubes wrapped in a towel, a compress, a bag of frozen peas or cloth dipped in cold water.
Ice aids in constricting blood vessels which helps in abating swelling. It can also help in reducing pain and discomfort brought on by the injury. Elevating the area while applying ice makes the remedy more effective.
Be careful not to apply ice on broken skin or open wound as the skin can get stuck to the ice and cause more pain.
Use Hot Compress
Using a hot compress is a simple remedy to combat swelling, especially on your face. Prepare a warm compress and press it against the swollen area. If you don’t have a hot compress, dip a cloth in hot water to use as a compress.
Applying hot compress improves circulation of blood in the area which reduces the swelling as well as the pain.
Apply the compress twice with 30 seconds interval, three times a day.
Lift up the Area
While sitting or lying down, lift up the affected area and prop it on something higher than the level of your heart, like a chair or a sack of pillows. This prevents the blood from clotting in the area and improves circulation.
If swelling is caused due to fluid accumulation, this position will allow the fluid to drain away from the area, thereby reducing the swelling.
There are a lot of over the counter medications, like Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs that can help reduce swelling and pain due to injury. Ibuprofen is the most commonly used medication in the NSAIDs category while other medicines include aspirin and naproxen.
Make sure you check with your doctor before taking the medication.
Do Light Exercises
While resting the affected area is important, it is also necessary to provide regular non-painful movements to the area. This is because persistent non-movement will reduce blood circulation in the area and make you swelling worse.
Occasionally walking, floating around in the swimming pool and mild exercises are great for reducing swelling. Another form of exercise you can try is yoga.
These movements will help increase blood circulation and bring down the swelling. Although be sure not to over exert yourself as even a lot of movement can be detrimental.
Take Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium deficiency can cause fluid retention, thereby causing swelling. Adding 200 – 400 mg of magnesium in your daily diet can help prevent water retention.
But before taking magnesium supplements, you should consult your doctor first, especially if you have a kidney or heart problem, or you are pregnant.
Epsom Salt Bath
If the swelling is in your ankles or feet, you can use a small tub or a bucket to soak your feet in it. Just add some Epsom salt to cool water and soak your feet in it for 15-20 minutes. This will relieve swelling related pain.
If you have swelling in area like calves or other parts which cannot be soaked on its own, take a bath. Fill your bath tub with warm water and add 2 tablespoon Epsom salt to it and soak your body for about half an hour. Your swelling and pain will subside eventually.
Opt for a Massage
Massage is a great way to get rid of swelling. Gently rubbing the swollen area provides better blood circulation and reduces swelling. You can make an appointment with a massage therapist or if you are able to, massage yourself.
Massage the area by focusing on upward movement, rather than downward. Use grapefruit essential oil for a more effective process. Just mix a few drops of essential oil with carrier oil like olive oil, and gently apply it on the affected area, massaging in a circular motion. Do it 1-2 times a day for a few days.
Aloe Vera gel can also be used, especially if the swelling is caused by an insect bite. It also helps in reducing swelling and pain caused by mild sunburn.
Just cut an aloe vera leaf into half and apply the gel on the affected area. Apply it twice a day until the swelling subsides.
Compress the Area
Use compression socks, bandages or towel to compress the affected area. This is important to prevent fluid from entering the area.
Compression socks are hard to get on, but they are extremely beneficial. When using bandages, make sure that it is not so tight that it restricts the flow of blood.
This will help bring down the swelling and prevent any fluid from accumulating in the area. Combining with alternative hot and cold press will make this remedy more effective.
Drink More Liquids
If your swelling is caused by fluid retention, drinking more liquids might seem counter-productive to the issue. But increasing your fluid intake can allow your body to process out the swelling causing liquid faster, thereby reducing your swelling.
Also, drinking more liquids will help counter swelling caused by dehydration. Juices and water are the preferred liquids to drive out toxins from your body.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Salt causes water retention, which is why; you need to cut back your sodium intake. The less salt you take in, the less there is a chance of your body retaining water.
This includes not just common salt that you add to your food, but also junk food, canned food, soda beverages and any other processed or fast food.
Stick to water to flush the salt from your system. You can add a slice of lemon and cucumber as they have anti-inflammatory properties and will help abate your swelling.
When Should You Consult a Doctor?
It is important to know when the swelling is severe enough to consult a doctor. Here some signs that indicate you need medical attention:
- Chronic swelling, i.e., the swelling does not reduce in a few days after home treatment.
- Swelling is the result of medications
- Severe swelling during pregnancy
- Swelling is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of Breath
- Warmth in the affected area
If you notice any of the above signs, call your doctor immediately as the swelling can be due to a more serious underlying cause, like heart or liver illness.