Posted on: June 18, 2008 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 4

Swelling refers to the increase in size or change in shape of a part of your body. Almost all people have swelling at some point in their lives. Some cases of swelling are mild and go away on their own, while others need medical treatment. Consult your doctor immediately if any part of your body is swollen because it might be a sign of an illness that requires serious medical attention.

Causes of Swelling

Swelling can be caused by tissue growth, collection of bodily fluids, and abnormal position or movement of tissue. It’s not advisable to treat swelling on your own without consulting your doctor because the number of diseases that cause swelling is bewildering. Swelling caused by the collection of bodily fluids can be categorized into two: localized and generalized.

Causes of Localized Swelling

Localized swelling occurs when fluids collect in different areas of the body. While it may affect smaller areas of the body than generalized swelling, it doesn’t mean that it’s safer to have this condition. You must still consult your doctor even if your swelling is localized because it might be a sign of a serious disease. Here are some causes of localized swelling:

  • Physical injury: Swelling may result from physical injuries like bruises. Tiny blood vessels under your skin rupture when you get bruised, causing areas to increase in size. Another cause of swelling is bleeding that affects the joints and their cushions. Swelling that results from physical injury can affect a single area or huge sections of the body, which usually happens after a disastrous accident.
  • Infection: Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all infect your body. When an infection occurs, an abscess may develop under the skin, causing pain and other symptoms. Cellulitis is a type of skin infection that causes mild to severe swelling.
  • Burns: Burns are known to cause swelling that may be accompanied by disfigurement of the burnt site.
  • Insect bites: Insect bites usually cause mild swelling, although some people can have huge swollen body parts if they are allergic to an insect bite. The insect bite or sting may also increase in size if the area gets infected.

Causes of Generalized Swelling

Generalized swelling refers to swelling that can affect the whole body. Some patients find it difficult to move because large areas of their body are swollen. Generalized swelling may result from the following conditions:

  • Allergy: If you wake up one morning and your hands or face are swollen, then you might be suffering from an allergic reaction. Go to your doctor immediately to see what needs to be done.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and lupus can cause swelling when the body generates cells that destroy its own tissues.
  • Drugs: Some drugs alter how your bodily fluids circulate, inducing swelling. You may also have swollen areas in your body if you’re allergic to a certain drug.
  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen: Illnesses such as obesity, malnutrition, liver disease, and cirrhosis can be accompanied by swelling if fluids accumulate in the abdomen.

Home Treatments for Swelling

Mild swelling usually goes away on its own, but home treatment helps to relieve symptoms faster. Follow these tips to get rid of your swelling as quickly as possible.

  • Get plenty of rest: The swelling will only get worse if you put pressure on it by doing your usual activities. Get plenty of rest until the swelling subsides or disappears to avoid complications.
  • Elevate the swollen part: Try to elevate the swollen part on pillows, then apply ice while you’re sitting or lying down. It’s best to keep the swollen part above your heart’s level to quickly reduce the swelling.
  • Take some medications: There are a variety of nonprescription medications you can buy to get rid of swelling. Acetaminophen like Panadol and Tylenol can improve your condition if you’re experiencing pain and fever along with the swelling. You may also take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin medications such as Bufferin and Bayer may also help you recover quicker.

How to Prevent Swelling

Accomplishing your daily tasks is difficult when you can’t move parts of your body because of their increased size and painfulness. It’s best to try to prevent swelling whenever you can. Here are some tips to avoid having swollen body parts:

  • Avoid holding a position for long periods of time: Body fluid moves down your limbs due to gravity as you hold a position for a length of time. Parts of your body will be noticeably larger if you stay in one position for a long period of time. Always move your limbs or your body to keep your body fluids flowing normally.
  • Eat a low-sodium diet: According to medical experts, eating a diet low in sodium reduces mild swelling. You may consult a nutritionist to see whether eating such a diet is good for you. (Read how to eat less salt)
  • Exercise regularly: Many people get swollen joints because of improper exercise techniques. Always stretch and warm up before doing any exercise. This will get your body fluids flowing normally and prepare your muscles and tissues to receive pressure.
  • Drink plenty of water: Keeping yourself hydrated helps reduce your risk of swelling. It’s also advisable to keep your skin cool when you’re in hot environments.
  • Mix it up: Avoid doing repetitive motions whether you’re working out or doing daily chores. Take breaks as frequently as necessary to rest parts of your body.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice: Consult your doctor during the whole treatment process and take your medications as instructed. Talk to your doctor about taking the medications at different times of the day if swelling often occurs.
  • Stop smoking: Smoking doesn’t improve your condition in any way. In fact, tobacco or cigarettes contribute to circulation problems in your body. Stop smoking right away if any part of your body becomes swollen. You may stop smoking for the duration of the treatment or stop it completely, which is best for your health. (Learn how to quit smoking)
  • Be more careful if you’re pregnant: It’s more dangerous to have swollen areas in your body if you’re pregnant. Talk to your doctor every step of the way to prevent swelling. You should also closely observe your body to look for swelling and other suspicious symptoms.

Consult your doctor immediately if any part of your body appears swollen. Getting a proper diagnosis right away is very important to prevent future complications. If you’re always having swollen body parts because of your daily routine, try to change your lifestyle to avoid swelling in the future. If you enjoy learning this article, you’ll surely read how to get rid of swollen glands.

Click here for more information on how to get rid of swelling.

4 People reacted on this

  1. I woke up a few days ago and below my eyebrow but above my eyes, on both sides it swelled up. i am going to a dance in a couple days and need it gone. iv already tried hot towl, ice packs, tylenal. please help me??

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