Water in the feet


Water in the feet is a multi-layered phenomenon that can be triggered by a variety of causes. Underneath, harmless processes can cause water in the feet, but not infrequently a serious illness can be behind it. The medical term for water in the tissue is called edema.

In order to understand how edema occurs, one must briefly visualize the transport routes of the body water. In adults, the proportion of water is about 65% of body weight and is found mainly in the cells of the body and in the blood, which consists of about 50% water. Through the vascular system, the water is transported to all places in the body and squeezed out of the capillaries, so to speak, to supply the cells. Excess water is again transported away via the veins or lymphatics. If the pressure in the vessel is too high or if it is disturbed, water will enter the tissue. Water in the feet can be caused on the one hand by local processes that take place on the foot, on the other hand, there are also general phenomena that lead to water in the feet.


The cause of the formation of water in the feet is always either too high a pressure in the blood vessel, so that more water is pressed into the tissue or a disturbed removal via the veins or lymph. A too weak pumping right ventricle complicates the return of the blood to the heart, which then accumulates on the arms and legs. Together with the gravity, which pulls the water down when standing, this causes water in the feet.

Also, diseases of the leg veins in which the veins are overloaded or clogged (leg vein thrombosis), cause of foot edema. Restricted kidney function can also cause water in the legs, as the body can not excrete excess water. Likewise pregnant women often complain about water in the feet.

A number of medicines (cortisone, calcium channel blockers) may be responsible for swelling of the feet as a side effect. Furthermore, in the context of malignant diseases such as cancer, damage to the lymphatic vessels can occur, which also results in water in the feet.


Water in the feet is a common symptom. It is primarily characterized by a swelling on the foot, which is usually pronounced most in the ankle area. It can be unilateral or bilateral, depending on the cause. The tissue can swell so much that an unpleasant feeling of tension over the skin occurs. In contrast, pain does not occur due to water in the feet.

The swelling makes itself felt at first mainly by the fact that the clothing gets tighter at the foot and the shoes do not fit anymore. Typical of water in the feet is that you leave a dent by gently pressing in the tissue, which only slowly regresses. The swelling is usually pronounced in the evening or after a long time due to the gravitational pressure in the vessel.


Water in the feet can quickly be recognized by its typical signs such as swelling and indulgence without pain. An inspection and palpation of the affected area is usually sufficient.

It is therefore all the more important to find the cause of the edema during diagnosis. For this one must ask if the swelling in certain situations are worse and if there are triggers. At first, all possibilities mentioned under causes come into consideration.

If the reason is not clear from the history of medication or pregnancy, it may be necessary to arrange for cardiac and renal examinations. The veins in the leg should be considered as well.

In the case of malignant diseases, imaging techniques such as CT or MRI and special blood tests are required.


The therapy of water in the feet is divided into two aspects. On the one hand, the cause should be found and treated as quickly as possible, which combats the edema at the root. On the other hand, there are a number of measures that alleviate the symptoms and reduce the extent.

These include, for example, special massage techniques that push the water out of the tissue. Even compression stockings or special bandages support the drainage. In persistent cases, a doctor may prescribe so-called diuretics, which promote the excretion of body water at the kidney.


The prognosis of water in the feet is strongly dependent on the cause. The symptoms of pregnancy, postpartum or menopause usually resolve themselves.

In case of underlying systemic disease such as heart failure or cancer, the occurrence of water in the feet correlates with the success of the disease. So it may be that the edema completely disappear, in other difficult to treat cases, the water in the feet persist. However, the extent and pressure of suffering can often be kept within reasonable limits.


To prevent water in the feet, a healthy lifestyle is very helpful. Regular exercise trains the heart, circulation and blood vessels, which are often the cause of swelling. Also suitable for strengthening the leg veins are cold foot baths. In order to prevent a recurrence of water in the feet, compression stockings or bandages are suitable as well as for therapy. These are useful in and after pregnancy.

However, due to a variety of causative diseases, it is difficult to give general recommendations for the prophylaxis of water in the feet. Nevertheless, one can summarize the main prophylactic measures in one sentence: rather walk and lie than stand and sit.

Water in the feet after birth

After giving birth, mothers increasingly experience water in their feet. But this is a common phenomenon that has no pathological significance. Mothers who have had edema during pregnancy are at a higher risk of contracting after birth. In some, it occurs after the birth also new. The complaints can sometimes go on for weeks.


Much of the water in the feet is due to the pregnancy.

Another cause after birth is simply limited mobility. After delivery, many mothers sit in bed or on the edge of the bed for a long time, instead of moving. Hormonal changes make the blood more viscous, which makes blood flow more difficult. Then legs and feet get fat. In addition, the risk of thrombosis is increased.


Certain diagnostic steps should only be taken if a manifest thrombosis develops in the leg, as noted by pain, redness, and a burning sensation.


The most important method of stifling the ailments of water in the foot is exercise. You should get up as soon as possible after the birth. Running promotes the venous return through muscle contraction, which leads to the swelling. Bandages or support stockings help. Drugs should be used when the symptoms persist.

Water in the feet during pregnancy

Even during pregnancy, water in the feet is a common side effect. The swelling is especially noticeable on the ankles and toes, but without any further complaints has no disease value.


During pregnancy, the kidneys automatically excrete less salts and thus water to increase the amount of blood and thus be able to provide the child with. This also increases the amount that must flow back from the feet. With water in the feet this mechanism is overwhelmed. In addition, there is the increased pressure in the abdomen caused by the pregnancy, which compresses the upper veins and thus further impedes the venous return flow. Thus, the return transport processes are exhausted and water enters the tissue in the feet. The increased estrogen level also promotes the development of edema.


The use of medications is very cautious, so as not to expose the baby to unnecessary danger during pregnancy. Simple measures such as sufficient exercise and little standing help to reduce the water in the feet. It makes sense to store your feet while lying down. In addition, compression stockings help drain the blood. Nevertheless, it is important to drink enough and to eat a balanced diet.

Water in your feet - what to do?

If you have water in your feet, most people ask themselves: what to do? Of course, this depends on the cause, with simple complaints, there are initially a number of meaningful measures. First of all, exercise is the alpha and omega that you can do when you have water in your feet. The combination with cold as in a treadle improves the decongestant effect. Compressing stockings or bandages are a good support. When lying down, it is advisable to store your feet up. At the same time you should drink enough, as the kidneys excrete less water in the thirsty state.

What should you do in any case, if serious diseases are the cause. Then the walk to the doctor is recommended.

Water in the feet in case of cancer

Some patients with cancer also have water in their feet.


In operations to cure cancer, lymph nodes are also removed. The disadvantage of this is that the lymph can no longer drain away from the areas supplied by the lymph nodes and thus build up. It comes to water in the feet, a lymphedema.

Irradiation as part of a radiotherapy in the leg area can cause edema or lymphatic vessels are inflamed and thus inoperative.

In cancer, water is found only on the side that has been treated, whereas other causes are always bilateral.


Since the disease history is known in cancer patients, eliminates the need for an edema diagnosis. It makes sense to document foot circumference or swelling during the course.


The usual therapy for water in the feet also helps in patients with cancer. Compression of the foot, movement and high camps have a decongestant effect. In addition, there are specially trained physiotherapists who perform lymphatic massage on oncology patients. The water is almost forced out of the affected area.

Water in the feet in thyroid disease

An overactive or underactive thyroid may also lead to water retention in the feet.

The thyroid gland is an important organ in order to balance the metabolism of a human with the help of thyroid hormones (T3, T4). Certain diseases of the thyroid gland can also cause water in the feet. More specifically, this is not about water, but about protein-sugar compounds. Colloquially, however, is often spoken of water in the feet.


An underactive thyroid ( hypothyroidism ) often leads to water in the feet. The exact formation is not completely clear, but you can see that especially the back of the foot is swollen.

An underactive thyroid is usually inflammatory or due to iodine deficiency, rarely it is innate. The particular form of edema associated with these disorders is called myxedema.

But even with a certain form of overactive thyroid gland, Graves' disease, water is often seen in the feet of patients.


There are a number of values ​​and tests that can help you differentiate your various thyroid disorders. These include the determination of the thyroid hormones T3, T4, TSH and possibly certain antibodies (TRAK, TPO), since they are often autoimmune diseases. In addition, an ultrasound should be made. Nuclear medicine diagnostics using scintigraphy may also be useful in some cases.


The therapy against the water in the feet is directed against the causative disease of the thyroid gland. If this is under control, for example, with substitution of the hormones, the edema is usually formed back. Supportive measures such as compression and high camps help myxedema only to a limited extent because it is not pure water retention.

Water in the feet during menopause

The phase in the life of a woman in which the hormones change and the woman passes from fertility to the so-called Senium (lat. Age) is called menopause. They occur between the age of 50 and 70 and are a physiological, normal process. During this time the women report more about water in their feet.


The cause here are the changes in hormone balance. During menopause there is a fall in progesterone in the blood, whereas the concentration of estrogen increases. As with pregnancy, this increases the permeability of the vessels, which can lead to water in the feet. Too much weight can speed up the process.


For the diagnosis of water in the feet during the menopause no special diagnostic means are used. Of course, other causes should be ruled out if symptoms are severe.


The therapy is limited to treat the symptoms and to reduce the water in the feet, as the menopause is a natural process. One should pay attention to sufficient exercise and a good diet. To reduce the discomfort, you can also use compressive bandages or stockings. Quick relief comes when you keep your feet high. A specific therapy, for example, with drugs is only necessary for long-lasting or severe complaints.

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