Do you recommend any home remedies for swollen feet?

When the weather warms up, my feet swell. This is both painful and annoying. Do you recommend any home remedies?

Tanya Edwards, M.D.

Tanya Edwards, M.D.

A family physician, Dr. Tanya Edwards is passionate about using nutrition for the prevention and treatment of chronic illness.  She... Read more

There’s nothing like hot weather to make a woman’s feet swell up. Known as edema, this condition is caused by blood vessels that dilate when it’s warm. That swelling you see is thanks to plasma, which is blood minus the red cells, that seeps out of the vessels and into the tissue. And thanks to the female hormone estrogen, the response is more exaggerated than it would be in a man. Gravity is also working against you, which is why your feet, not your face (thank goodness), swell.

Support stockings can help because they increase the pressure in the tissues, making it more difficult for the fluid to leak into them. You can also keep your feet elevated at or above heart level. If you work in an office, this probably isn’t practical, but even raising them up a little bit on a footstool or pile of books can help. If you have a job where you’re on your feet a lot of the day, use your breaks to give your feet a break too.

Once you’re home, trying soaking those tootsies in a cool or lukewarm epsom salts footbath. The magnesium in this salt will help draw water out of your feet.

Soaking your feet in salt is one thing, but dousing your food with it is no good for your feet. Cut down on salt (processed foods are notorious for hidden sodium) and you decrease the amount of fluid in your veins, leaving less fluid to seep and swell. Just about any herbal tea will have a mild diuretic effect. Hot or cold, decaf or caffeinated, will do. Dandelion tea has the most potent diuretic effect, so limit this tea to no more than two or three cups per day. Water with lemon can also help flush away the bloat.

If foot swelling is a new symptom and it’s associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, headache or increased blood pressure, it may be due to a strain on your heart or heart failure, which requires immediate medical attention. Liver failure, malnutrition, pregnancy and very low protein intake can also cause swelling, so check with your doctor if symptoms persist.