How to Reduce Body Swelling

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Swelling in different areas of your body -- generally from fluid accumulation in your tissues -- frequently is visible in your extremities. Serious underlying medical conditions -- including liver disease, congestive heart failure or venous insufficiency -- increase your risk of edema, or swelling, for which medical intervention is necessary to treat. Mild swelling also occurs from use of certain medications and lifestyle habits. You can take steps at home to reduce swelling, but if you experience chronic swelling, consult your physician for an evaluation to determine the underlying cause.

Elevate the swollen body part above heart level up to four times a day. Prop your arms, feet or legs up with pillows while you are at rest to prompt the built-up fluid to circulate instead of pool in the affected area.

Wear compression stockings if you have swelling in the lower limbs -- or compression sleeves for swollen arms. Special hose, available at your local pharmacy, can place pressure on the swollen areas so additional fluid does not collect in your tissue.

Monitor fluid intake to prevent excessive consumption and retention. Drink water regularly to stimulate fluid output but avoid drinking too much if you take diuretic medication. Consult your physician for fluid intake recommendations to help reduce swelling associated with an underlying medical cause.

Eat less salt. Excessive sodium in your diet increases the risk of swelling. Limit daily sodium and salt intake to 2,000 milligrams or less unless your physician advises otherwise. In the event of heart disease as the underlying medical cause of swelling, you may need to restrict your daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams or less. Read nutrition labels for sodium per serving and avoid using table salt.

Go for a walk, engage in light exercise or move around. Using muscles around the swollen body part can prompt your heart to circulate excess fluid. Avoid strenuous exercise and consult your physician for recommendations based on the specific area of the body affected by swelling.

Avoid tight clothing, crossing your legs or standing for long periods. If you have body swelling, these factors can worsen fluid retention.


Excessive weight can increase your risk of body swelling. Consult your physician for weight-loss recommendations based on your health needs. Light pressure or massage on the affected area can help move excess fluid.


Avoid extreme temperature changes, which can worsen swelling.