General Oedema

General Oedema

Swelling of the legs may result from many causes, with vein problems being one of them.

It is important to understand this as sometimes other causes need to be identified. Occasionally, there is more than one cause.

There are clues as to where swelling is coming from.

ONE LEG INVOLVEDOTHER SYMPTOMS
Leg Veins
  • Swelling worse on standing
  • Swelling relieved by leg elevation
  • Leg symptoms: heavy, tired, throbbing, aching legs.
  • May have skin changes (pigmented skin, eczema, hardened skin)
  • May have wounds
Pelvic vein compression
  • Swelling when exercising
  • Thigh swelling
  • Bursting sensation
  • Unknown cause of thrombosis
Lymphoedema
  • Heavy leg, tired leg.
  • Swelling goes down on elevation but with time swelling remains.
  • Skin changes (thickened, warty skin).
  • May have wounds
Pelvic or abdominal obstruction from a mass – benign or malignant
  • Pelvic or gynae symptoms
  • No symptoms at all in the pelvis
BOTH LEGSOTHER SYMPTOMS
Leg Veins
  • Swelling worse on standing
  • Swelling relieved by leg elevation
  • Leg symptoms: heavy, tired, throbbing, aching legs.
  • May have skin changes (pigmented skin, eczema, hardened skin)
  • May have wounds
Pelvic vein compression
  • Swelling when exercising
  • Thigh swelling
  • Bursting sensation
  • Unknown cause of thrombosis
Lymphoedema
  • Heavy leg, tired leg.
  • Swelling goes down on elevation but with time swelling remains.
  • Skin changes (thickened, warty skin).
  • May have wounds
Cardiac failure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty lying flat
Renal failure
  • May have blood pressure problems
  • May have nausea
Thyroid dysfunction
  • Weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Intolerance to cold
Liver failure
  • May have jaundice
  • May have fluid in the abdomen
Protein losing condition
  • May have swelling of face and body as well

In order to work out where swelling is coming from, a thorough history must be undertaken and investigations done. Investigations may include:

Remember, although in some patients it is obvious why they have swelling, in others, it may take time to work out where the swelling is coming from. Sometimes there is more than one cause.