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Kidney Diseases

Puffy Legs



Thanks for your time. I have noticed on some days that my lower legs have mild pitting edema. My recent blood tests were all normal. I am female and age 59. I have no trouble with pain while I`m exercising, but my legs can ache at times. Could you tell me if this is age related? I do spend a few hours a day sitting at the computer.


Edema is a fairly common problem that can occur with a variety of conditions, such as venous insufficiency -- poor return of blood upwards (against gravity) in the legs .  This can in turn be related to defective vein valves (such as are seen with varicose veins) or to obesity.  Edema can also be seen with the use certain medications (such as the blood pressure med Norvasc) or with hormonal changes (such as before menstrual periods).  There are diseases that cause edema, such as heart failure, liver cirrhosis, and kidney disease, but if you feel healthy and have had normal blood and urine tests, these are not likely.  However, if you have not had a urine test for protein, that would be worth doing just to rule out kidney problems (since blood tests cannot completely exclude certain types of kidney disease).

Otherwise, just be aware that the edema is likely to be worse if you're on your feet or sitting with your legs down, or if you eat a high-salt diet.  The edema may be less bothersome if you can keep your legs elevated (for instance, while reading or watching TV), and you can also wear support stockings for comfort if you wish. 

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Response by:

Mildred   Lam, MD Mildred Lam, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University