Swelling in any part of the body tends to be an uncomfortable and concerning experience. It can happen following a nasty injury, or even after indulging in a salty dish. However, experts warn that swelling in certain parts of the body could be a sign that you have diabetes. Read on to find out which spots you should be paying attention to, and what this symptom could mean.
Swelling in the ankles, feet, or hands could be a sign of diabetes.
Swollen body parts are something you should always pay attention to, since your body is likely trying to tell you something is off. But if you notice your ankles, feet, or hands are swollen, it could be a sign of diabetes, according to diabetes.co.uk. This swelling, which is a build-up of fluid in the body, is known as edema.
Diabetes is a condition in which your body doesn't produce any, or enough, insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps your cells absorb sugar, Healthline explains. Without the proper amount of insulin in the body, sugar can accumulate in your bloodstream, which—if untreated—can damage the lining of small blood vessels, causing poor circulation. This poor circulation can ultimately result in fluid getting stuck in certain parts of your body, most notable the ankles, feet, or hands.
There are other causes of diabetes-related swelling.
Poor circulation is one of the more common causes of diabetes-related swelling, but it's not the only possibility. According to Healthline, other common factors linked with swelling in people with diabetes include obesity, venous insufficiency, heart problems, kidney problems, low protein levels, and medication side effects. Venous insufficiency is when the veins in your legs don't allow blood to flow back up to your heart, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Talk with your doctor to figure out what could be causing your swelling—and if the underlying issue is diabetes.
You can do things to mitigate your swelling without a diagnosis.
While it's a good idea to get medical attention, there are a handful of things you can do to help your swelling go down. Verywell Health suggests elevating the affected body part, wearing support stockings or socks, exercising, and following a low-sodium diet. Additionally, Healthline recommends staying hydrated, losing weight, taking magnesium, soaking the affected area in an Epsom salt bath, trying essential oils, and being sure to get up and move every hour.
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If you're experiencing swelling, talk to your doctor.
If your ankles, hands, or feet are swelling—and especially if you can't get the swelling to go down on your own—Healthline urges you to see a doctor. Even if your swelling is not a sign of diabetes, it could be something serious. Per Healthline, swelling on one side of the body may signify deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in one or more of the veins in your leg that requires immediate medical attention. Whatever the cause, consulting a physician should be able to bring you some relief.