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What are the Best Remedies for Swelling?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Jan 23, 2024
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The best remedies for swelling depend upon the cause. Typically, soft-tissue swelling responds to ice packs and anti-inflammatory medications. Other types of swelling include ankle swelling or edema. Usually before this type of swelling can be treated, the cause must be first determined. Ankle swelling is sometimes associated with cardiovascular problems such as congestive heart failure and resultant water retention.

Swelling remedies also include elevation of the affected limb. When swelling is related to an ankle injury such as a sprain, elevating it can relieve swelling, as can applying a pressure-wrap bandage. Ice packs are also recommended for injuries of the ankle, as these types of swellings involve the soft tissue. Although heating packs are beneficial in relieving pain, they are less effective than ice packs in relieving swelling.

In cases of congestive heart failure and edema, the physician might recommend a diuretic or water pill. These medications are effective treatments for swelling, because they encourage frequent urination, which helps relieve excess fluid retention. Generally, when congestive heart failure is well managed, swelling usually declines. Sometimes, allergic reactions can cause swelling. When people are exposed to allergens, mild swelling of the nasal passages, eyes, and lips can occur.

In cases of severe allergic reaction, swelling can occur in the throat, causing it to close up. This is a medical emergency, called an anaphylactic reaction, and requires immediate emergency treatment. Typically, effective treatments for swelling related to anaphylactic shock are epinephrine and intravenous fluids. People who are allergic to bee stings and peanuts are often at risk for this type of reaction, and in those people, a prescription for epinephrine might be in order to keep on hand at all times.

Drinking water throughout the day can help reduce swelling due to fluid retention. People retain fluid for a variety of reasons, including eating a diet that is high in sodium, not drinking enough water, and using certain medications. Anti-inflammatory medications can cause temporary fluid retention, as can antihistamines and anti-anxiety medications. Drinking more water encourages urination, which helps reduce retention and resultant swelling, especially in the face, hands, and ankles.

Although most remedies for swelling will be sufficient to reduce the incidence, sometimes they are ineffective. When treating the swelling fails to bring improvement, the physician might need to further evaluate the cause. Medical diagnostic testing to evaluate edema might include blood test that can determine kidney function and heart tests. Although many times these tests will prove negative, the cause for persistent swelling needs to be determined.

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Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Apr 06, 2011

I think something happens to me literally everyday where I have to deal with some kind of swelling on my body. Maybe it has something to do with my immune system, I'm not sure. I have learned how to cope with it though, these are the home remedies I use for swelling.

When I have an insect bite, the area becomes red, swollen and itchy in a matter of minutes. First thing I do is wash with soapy water. I usually apply insect bite sprays but sometimes I don't always have one. In that case, I apply some rubbing alcohol on it. If I don't have that, then I apply vinegar. This relieves the itch and the swelling goes down.

Once I was eating melon, went to the bathroom and saw that my lips became huge! I had eaten melons many times before and couldn't have seen that coming. The same thing happens to me when I have hot pepper so I knew what to do. First I apply ice cubes wrapped in cloth (I was taught never to apply ice directly on skin). Then I apply aloe vera gel. It works great. I actually use aloe vera gel for insect bites sometimes too. I keep my bottle of aloe vera in the fridge, I feel it works better when it's cool.

The final remedy I want to mention is for swollen eyes. I have this when I sleep too much or too little, when I walk outside when there is pollen and when I cry. Using eye drops and applying tea bags are good for this kind of swelling. Following up with sliced cucumber is great too.

By discographer — On Apr 04, 2011

My daughter had swollen gums while she was teething. She was so upset and fussy until her teeth came out. I found these homeopathic teething tablets online that really helped with the swelling and irritation.

I actually get swollen gums myself when I brush too harshly or too often. When it happens, I either gargle with lemon juice diluted with water or apply ginger paste and salt on the swollen areas. Both work really well, but obviously can't be used on toddlers. They are great home remedies for adults though.

By turquoise — On Apr 03, 2011

My feet swell often because I am overweight. I am on a diet and exercise program to lose weight. But until I reach my goal weight, I try not to overdo walking and putting my feet in salt water helps a lot too.

I've also noticed that the swelling goes down in the night. So I think that putting your feet up somehow helps as well. Those would be my recommendations.

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