11 Alarming Medical Conditions That Can Make Feet Puff Up

Sometimes your body can give you clues to health issues you’re totally unaware of. Signals in the form of skin ailments, bodily odors, or pings and pains can be the wake-up call you need.

Swollen feet fall into that department too. You may experience sore, bloated feet from time to time but don’t realize the cause. It’s true that walking for long periods of time – especially in hot or humid weather – can do it, but there may be a major underlying medical condition at work.

Stop ignoring your swollen feet or dismissing it as something simple. The list of conditions below could be the root of your swollen foot woes and may require further attention. Listen to your body!

  1. Medication Intolerance

    Your body may react to certain medications like antidepressants, blood pressure meds, estrogen-based prescriptions, or steroids. These drugs can cause both your feet and legs to swell as a side effect.

  2. Lymphedema

    When lymphatic fluid accumulates in the lymph nodes, it’s called lymphedema. In many cases, the swelling is more pronounced during the day and goes down at night. Elevating the feet or wearing compression garments can help. Lymphedema can be caused by many things including cancer, infection, or injury.

  3. Heart Trouble

    If your heart is unable to pump blood from (or to) the heart due to poor circulation, a buildup of fluid can result. Congenital heart failure and heart disease are two major cardiovascular conditions where swelling of the feet is one of the signs. See your physician!

  4. Cellulitis

    Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that invades the cells under the skin. Symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling in the feet or lower leg. Antibiotic treatment is required.

  5. Hypothyroidism

    Low thyroid function can lead to poor circulation and fluid retention in your feet or ankles. One of the first signs of an abnormal thyroid is swelling in one or both feet.

  6. Kidney or Liver Disease

    Fluid can build up in the body and collect in the feet due to kidney or liver dysfunction. In severe cases, you may be experiencing organ failure. If you have other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fatigue, weight gain, or fluid in your abdomen, seek immediate medical attention!

  7. Weak Varicose Veins

    When your varicose veins become weakened or damaged, they can cause fluid to leak into the tissues and down to the feet and ankles. Your blood does not circulate properly and therefore can lead to a host of other problems. Swollen feet is a common first sign. Visit a medical professional for a diagnosis.

  8. Gout

    Gout can come on suddenly if there’s too much uric acid collecting in your joints. Common signs are warmth, pain, and swelling in one foot or limb. Ignoring symptoms can lead to serious health issues such as kidney disease. Treatment includes drainage or medication.

  9. Hormonal Changes

    Hormones can bounce around due to pregnancy, birth control medications, hormone replacement therapy, or an endocrine system imbalance. Fluid retention and edema in the feet is common, and sometimes will go away on its own.

    If your problem is persistent and tied to medication or an endocrine-related condition, speak with your doctor about solutions.

  10. Blood Clots

    Blood clots can develop anywhere in the body, preventing blood flow through the veins. Blocking the flow of blood from the legs to the heart can cause fluid to build up in the feet or leg. If you notice redness or discoloration in addition to the swelling, see a doctor.

  11. Arthritis

    Osteoarthritis typically affects one foot, and you may feel stiffness, pain, and swelling. With rheumatoid arthritis, the lining surrounding your joints becomes inflamed. Attacks of rheumatoid arthritis may start in both feet, and then spread out to other parts of the body.

Other issues like weight gain are also connected to swollen feet. If you experience sudden, repeated, or long periods of foot edema, then speak with a health care professional for immediate care.

Depending on the cause of your swelling, you may be advised to apply ice and elevate your limb until you get relief. Serious conditions will require in-depth treatment.

Do you have an issue with chronic swollen feet? Have you been checked out for a serious condition because of your swollen feet?


Mayo Clinic