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High Blood Pressure

Swollen hands and feet

04/15/2008

Question:

Everyday for the last week or so my hands, fingers, and wrist are really swollen,they also hurt bad. I noticed my ankles and legs are also. I am NOT pregnant and I do not know what could be wrong. I am a stay at home mom so I do not use them constanty. Everything in past with blood pressure has been normal to good. Do you have any ideas on what could be wrong? Thank you very much.

Answer:

Swelling of hands and feet (edema) can have a variety of causes. The most common form of edema in women is called idiopathic edema. It is sometimes associated with the menstrual cycle (but not always). Diuretics usually do not help. The cause of idiopathic edema is not clear, but retention of salt by the body is often present. The best treatment of idiopathic edema is reduction in salt intake, and rest (lying down) for several hours during the day. In more severe cases, elastic stockings can help. Drugs like ACE inhibitors, progesterone or bromocriptine have been used, but their efficacy is not consistent. Idiopathic edema is bothersome but harmless. However, in some cases, edema can be the manifestation of more serious heart, kidney or liver disease. If your symptoms cannot be controlled or get worse, or if you experience shortness of breath, nausea or steady weight gain, you will need an evaluation by a physician.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati