Swollen legs affect people of all ages for all sorts of reasons. They can be caused by foot and ankle injuries, pregnancy, medical conditions, the side effects of medication and even by hot weather.
Fluid retention, or oedema, is a common cause of puffiness or swelling. Oedema can occur anywhere in the body but it's most common in the feet and ankles, where it is known as peripheral oedema. Oedema usually clears up when the underlying condition causing the fluid imbalance is diagnosed and treated.
Your GP may recommend some things you can do yourself to reduce fluid retention, including:
- losing weight (if you are overweight)
- taking regular exercise, such as walking, swimming and cycling
- raising your legs three-to-four times a day to improve your circulation
- avoiding standing for long periods of time
Diuretics are a type of medication that may also be prescribed to help reduce fluid build-up. They work by increasing the amount of urine you produce. However, not everyone can use diuretics and in some cases they can make things worse. They are mainly used to treat people who develop oedema as a result of heart failure.