Swollen hands and feet can have a variety of causes. The most common type of swelling is called idiopathic edema. Idiopathic edema is poorly understood, but it is not dangerous. Sometimes it is possible to pinpoint the cause, but often it is not.
Sometimes women suffer from idiopathic edema during certain portions of their menstrual cycle. The problem, however, is not limited to women and not necessarily to a particular time of the month. Swollen hands and feet is often combined with retained sodium. Diuretics rarely have any effect on idiopathic edema.
Swollen hands and feet from idiopathic edema can often be reduced by lying down for several hours and reducing the amount of salt in your diet. Some doctors treat idiopathic edema with ACE inhibitors or progesterone, but this does not consistently treat the condition. There is no health risk associated with this swelling, so rest and reduction of salt seem to be the best treatment.
In some cases, idiopathic edema is so severe that it causes discomfort. The swelling can stretch the skin, causing itching and pain. In this case, a doctor will first determine that the swelling is not part of a greater health concern. If not, he may recommend elastic stockings to help reduce the swelling and alleviate the discomfort.
Swollen hands and feet can sometimes be a symptom of a larger health concern. Swelling in the extremities can be a symptom of heart disease, or problems with the liver or kidneys. For this reason, it is important not to ignore swollen hands and feet. If you cannot reduce the swelling through rest and a reduction of salt in your diet, see a doctor.
Other signs that swelling in your hands and feet may be serious are if it is coupled with a shortness of breath, unexplained weight gain or nausea. Any of these symptoms, combined with swelling of the hands and feet, are a signal that something potential serious may be going on in the body. A thorough doctor’s exam can isolate the problem and help find a solution.
While frequent bouts of swelling in the hands and feet can be troubling, in most cases it is no cause for alarm. By reducing salt consumption and resting during the day, much of the swelling can be alleviated. If the problem persists, a trip to the doctor can help alleviate any concerns. Serious health problems that manifest as swollen hands and feet are uncommon.