Standing or walking for long periods of time can cause an abnormal fluid buildup in the ankles, feet, and legs—especially among older adults with diabetes. And this isn't just uncomfortable; it can be painful.

Pay extra attention to your feet and legs. Even a small cut or injury could lead to complications. Swelling in the legs and feet can be caused by painful peripheral edema, the swelling in tissues of the lower limbs, and in severe instances it can cause permanent nerve damage.

There are several reasons your feet, ankles, or legs may swell:

  • Increased age

  • Infection

  • Being overweight

  • Foot or ankle injury

  • Complication with the veins in the legs

  • Long periods of sitting, such as while flying or on a car ride

  • Standing still for long periods

  • Certain medications

  • Kidney damage

5 tips to reduce the swelling

  1. Elevate your legs. When lying down, place your legs on a pillow or folded blanket to raise your legs above your heart.

  2. Compression socks. These socks/stockings apply gentle pressure on your legs to help move blood through your legs and prevent swelling.

  3. Monitor salt intake. A high-sodium diet may increase the buildup of fluids and cause swelling.

  4. Exercise. Moving your legs helps with blood circulation and pumps the fluid from your legs. Get up and move around as often as possible, especially when you're spending long hours sitting.

  5. Drink water. Aim for eight to 10 glasses of water per day to help flush excess salt from your system. Add anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger or berries to your water ​to help fight swelling and inflammation.

Keep in mind that poor circulation can cause slow wound healing. The addition of swollen feet, ankles, or legs can make it more difficult for wounds to heal properly. Remember to check your feet daily for any injuries.

If you notice abnormal swelling in your feet and ankles, or if your skin is red and warm to the touch, it could be sign of kidney damage. It’s important to speak with your doctor to address any concerns.

To learn more about coping with foot problems:

Diabetic Foot Infections: Antibiotics or Surgery?
Type 2 Diabetes: Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Type 1 Diabetes: Lifestyle and Home Remedies