If you’ve been finding yourself wondering a lot lately, “why are my feet swollen?” this post is for you. Keep reading to find out what causes swollen feet and how to reduce the swelling.

What Causes Swollen Feet?

There are several factors that cause swollen feet, from pregnancy to diabetes. Here are the main causes of swollen feet:

Pregnancy Complications 

Some degree of ankle swelling is totally normal during pregnancy. But, any swelling that suddenly pops up or is excessive may be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious condition where high blood pressure and protein in the urine develop after the 20th week of pregnancy.  


Lymphedema is when lymphatic fluid collects in the tissues that can develop because of problems with or the absence of lymph vessels or after lymph nodes are removed. 

If left untreated, lymph buildup can impair wound healing and cause infection and deformity. This condition commonly occurs after radiation or lymph node removal in cancer patients. 


Swelling in the feet and ankles may also be a sign of infection. People diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy and other nerve issues are at a higher risk of infection. It’s important that people with diabetes inspect their feet daily for sores and blisters because nerve damage often blunts the pain sensation, which allows feet problems to progress fast.

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol may cause the feet to swell because the body retains more water after drinking. If your feet commonly swell when you drink, it may be a sign of an issue with your liver, heart, or kidneys. 



Edema is a common condition that happens when excess fluid gets trapped in the body’s tissue. This leads to swelling and puffiness of the tissue directly under the skin in the feet, ankles, and legs. Edema can also impact hands and arms and can make walking extremely difficult. 

Blood Clot

When blood clots form in leg veins, they can cause the return flow of blood to stop from the legs back to the heart. This causes swelling in the ankles and feet.

Blood clots can be superficial and occur in the veins just beneath the skin, or deep (deep vein thrombosis). These deep clots can block one or more of the major leg veins. If these clots travel to the heart and lungs, they can be deadly.

How do you Reduce Swelling in the Feet?

If your feet and/or ankles are swollen, take the following steps: 

  • Reduce your salt intake
  • Lie down with your feet and legs higher than your heart
  • Take diuretics
  • Adjust your prescription medications (never do this without speaking with your doctor)
  • Wear supportive tights or stockings
  • Apply a cold compress to your feet
  • Drink more water
  • Take a quick walk

You should see a doctor immediately if you begin to experience any of the following:

  • Skin that retains a dimple after pressed on
  • Stretched or broken foot skin
  • Pain and swelling that does not improve 
  • Leg lacerations or blisters
  • Chest pain, tightness, pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling on only one side 

Why is only one of my feet swollen? 

When only one foot is swollen, it is often caused by trauma or venous blockage—often by a blood clot. That’s why it’s so important to immediately seek medical care if only one of your feet has swollen. Symptoms of one-foot swelling include:

  • Severe pain
  • Coldness of the affected foot caused by a loss of circulation
  • Red or blue tones
  • The foot is visibly deformed
  • Inability to bear weight on the foot
  • Rash
  • Itchiness
  • Fever or chills

Remember, when in doubt about your foot swelling, it’s best to contact your health care provider immediately. At the very least, they can listen to your symptoms and provide you with some advice on how to lessen the swelling.

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