Causes of & Treatment for Swollen Feet

Swollen feet often occur as a result of a condition called peripheral edema. Peripheral edema is the accumulation of fluid in the body tissues of the lower limbs. Although swollen feet may not seem like a serious condition, peripheral edema is usually associated with improper functioning of the major organs in the body due to damage or disease.

A doctor looks at a woman's swollen foot. Credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Mitral Valve Stenosis

The mitral valve is a structure that lies between the left ventricle and left atria of the heart. The mitral valve opens when the heart contracts, allowing blood to flow out of the atria and into the ventricle, and closes when the heart releases, preventing backflow of blood. Mitral valve stenosis is a condition in which the mitral valve is abnormally narrow. When the valve is narrow, it hinders the amount of blood that can flow through it, preventing adequate oxygen from reaching some of the body's tissues. This can result in fatigue, shortness of breath, swollen feet and ankles, heart palpitations, recurrent respiratory infections, and heavy coughing. According to, most cases of mitral valve stenosis are caused by rheumatic fever in early life. Initial treatment for mitral valve stenosis consists of diuretics and blood thinners to increase blood flow. If this is ineffective, surgery may be needed to repair the mitral valve.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is defined as damage to the kidneys that results in the gradual loss of kidney function over time. The kidneys are responsible for removing waste from the blood and helping to control blood pressure. When the kidneys can no longer function properly, they cannot filter waste effectively and the waste remains in the blood. This can cause an accumulation of fluid in the tissues and result in swollen feet and ankles. Other symptoms of chronic kidney disease include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, insomnia and mental confusion. The most common causes of chronic kidney disease are chronic high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Occasionally, chronic kidney disease can develop as a result of infections or urinary obstructions. Chronic kidney disease is usually treated with a combination of medications and diet changes. If the disease progresses to kidney failure, dialysis is necessary.

Obstructive Uropathy

Obstructive uropathy occurs when the ureter, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, is blocked. When the ureter is blocked, urine cannot leave the body and instead accumulates in the kidneys. This results in swelling of one or both kidneys, a condition called hydronephrosis, which can cause damage to the organs. Some common causes of obstructive uropathy are bladder stones, tumors in the urinary tract, enlarged prostate and colon cancer. Symptoms of obstructive uropathy can vary depending on whether the condition is chronic or acute and if one or both kidneys are affected, according to MedlinePlus. General symptoms include fever, flank pain, urinary tract infection, pain during urination, nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, decreased urine production and swelling, especially in the legs, ankles and feet. Nonsurgical treatments such as the use of catheters or draining the ureter can provide temporary relief, but surgery is usually required to remove the obstruction.

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