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.