What are swelling problems?

Swelling is usually a sign of excess fluid buildup or inflammation in the body. Swelling can make you look bloated or distended, and your skin may appear shiny and stretched out. Swelling may be widespread or localized to a particular area of the body, such as the lymph nodes, hands, ankles, tongue or face.

Swelling, or edema, can occur anywhere within the body, including the internal organs, but it is most noticeable on the face, neck, hands, legs, ankles and feet. Edema is classified according to the body part that is affected, such as pulmonary edema (of the lungs), facial edema, and lymphedema (of the lymph nodes).

Swelling can be caused by a wide variety of underlying diseases, disorders and conditions, including infections, inflammation, trauma, circulatory disorders, cardiac (heart) disorders, allergic reactions, malignancy (cancer), and other abnormal processes.

Depending on the cause, swelling symptoms may be temporary and resolve on their own, such as ankle swelling after standing or sitting for a long time. Chronic swelling, or swelling that builds up over time, can indicate a potentially serious disorder, such as congestive heart failure or cardiovascular disease. Swelling can be caused by serious infections, including sexually transmitted diseases, and by orthopedic conditions, such as a broken bone.

Because swelling can be a symptom of a life-threatening condition, such as an anaphylactic reaction or heart failure, you should seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience swelling symptoms with chest pain, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, or any difficulty breathing. Seek prompt medical care if you do not have these symptoms, but the swelling is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with swelling symptoms?

Swelling may be accompanied by other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. For example, leg and ankle swelling due to congestive heart failure may occur with shortness of breath. Lymph node swelling due to an infection may be accompanied by fever, redness, and warmth around the affected area.... Read more about swelling symptomssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes swelling symptoms?

Swelling symptoms can be caused by a wide variety of infections, inflammation, trauma, cancer, and cardiovascular disorders. Organs and lymph nodes regulate the balance of fluids that circulate throughout the body. Various conditions that affect organ function can tilt the balance so that fluid is retained and starts leaking into the surrounding tissues.... Read more about swelling symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian MD Last Annual Review Date: Jan 13, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

What's Causing Your Symptoms?