Edema Of The Feet

What Causes Swollen Feet?

Swollen feet can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose swollen feet, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "swollen feet" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Excess Water Consumption
  • Nephrotic Syndrome
  • Alcohol Consequences
  • Atrophic Gastritis
  • Anorexia/Starvation Tendency
  • Food Allergies
  • Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects
  • Thrombophlebitis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
afternoon headaches
strictly controlled emotions
excess nose/throat mucus
recent onset nausea
reduced mental clarity
weak sexual desire
past pain/burning behind breastbone
very brittle hair
frequent colds/flus
anorexia
frequent infections
craving and eating wheat
... and more than 110 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of swollen feet:
Cause Probability Status
Thrombophlebitis 93% Confirm
Alcohol Consequences 27% Unlikely
Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects 24% Unlikely
Excess Water Consumption 3% Ruled out
Nephrotic Syndrome 0% Ruled out
Anorexia/Starvation Tendency 0% Ruled out
Food Allergies 0% Ruled out
Atrophic Gastritis 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate edema, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you have edema of the feet? To rate its severity, press firmly with a finger for 5 seconds and note the approximate depth of the indentation or length of time to return to normal.
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Slight: 5mm (1/4 inch) depth, immediate return
→ Minor: 8-10mm (1/2 inch) depth, 10-15 seconds
→ Moderate: 11-20mm (3/4 inch) depth, 15-30 seconds
→ Severe: Over 20mm (1 inch) depth, over 30 seconds
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate edema of the feet, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Congestive Heart Failure

Due to weakened heart muscles, blood supply to the kidneys may be reduced, which in turn impairs their ability to excrete salt and water.  As a result the body retains more fluid, some of which may accumulate in the extremities, resulting in edema of the ankles and/or feet.

Edema (Water Retention)

Edema (Water Retention) also suggests the following possibilities:

Alcohol-related Problems

Excessive alcohol intake can cause edema.

Anorexia / Starvation Tendency

Semi-starvation can cause edema.  People with eating disorders may interpret the puffiness of edema or any changes on the scale as weight gain or getting "fat" and may panic and purge or take laxatives even more.

Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects

Angioedema or swelling of the eyelids, lips, hands or feet are listed as possible reactions to aspartame.

Atrophic Gastritis

Edema may be due to low levels of circulating proteins from poor protein digestion.

Excess Salt Consumption

Salt can increase the amount of fluid that you retain in your body.

Hormone Imbalance

Hormones regulate the amount of interstitial fluid surrounding our body's cells.  A hormone imbalance can result in too much interstitial fluid, and thus edema.

Protein Deficiency

When protein (especially albumin) levels in your blood go too low, the colloidal osmotic pressure will decrease and allow fluid to escape from blood vessels into your tissues, resulting in edema or swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, knees and/or belly.

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