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Water retention in the feet

Angela Davis

Sunday, July 16, 2017

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WATER retention is the accumulation of excess fluid in the circulatory system and in the areas between the body's cells. It can cause different parts of the body to swell, but the most common areas are the feet and the legs.

There are many different causes of water retention. Examples are hypertension, humid weather, menopause, pregnancy, heart and liver disease, contraceptive medications, nutritional deficiencies, hypothyroidism, and kidney disease. The side effects from some medications and a lack of certain vitamins, pollution, processed foods, and allergies are also potential causes.

Oedema is the swelling of the body as a the result of water retention. It can make your legs feel heavy and sluggish. You may find that your shoes do not fit you properly by the end of the day and are very tight. When located around the ankles, it can make you more prone to ulceration.

So what can you do to minimise your chances of getting this swelling?


Exercise will improve your cardiovascular function and get you to sweat. When we sweat we release sodium ions and this is why our sweat tastes salty.

Water retention is caused by excessive sodium ions being trapped under the skin.


Elevate your feet and let gravity do the work. If you have been on your feet all day and they are swollen, take every opportunity to elevate them at least to a horizontal level.

This will encourage excess fluid that has pooled to flow back up your legs and be reabsorbed.

Drink plenty water

Dehydration will cause your body to retain water and lead to swelling. Drink a glass of water at room temperature as you wake up and continue to hydrate throughout the day.

Eat certain foods

Certain foods help to reduce water retention. Examples are onions, garlic, broccoli, tomatoes, bananas, parsley, pineapple, asparagus, and citrus fruits.

Foods to avoid are anything that contains salt. Limit your intake of processed foods which tend to be high in sodium. Read food labels that should tell you the sodium content. Your diet should be rich in fibrous foods which tend to cleanse the colon and intestine.

Support stockings

Wear support stockings that will compress your feet and legs and force the fluid out of this location. Speak to your general practitioner before purchasing these.

Lose weight

Lose weight if you are obese.

When sitting or standing in one position for a long period of time, stretch your legs and move around regularly.

You should always consult your doctor for advice if you suffer with water retention, so that if there are any underlying causes they can be treated.

Angela Davis BSc (Hons) DPodM MChS is a podiatrist with offices in Montego Bay (293- 7119), Mandeville (962-2100), Ocho Rios (974-6339), Kingston (978-8392), and Savanna-la-Mar (955-3154). She is a member of the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom.




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