Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment drugs Home Care low salt diet warning signs Underlying Cause

Swelling Home Care

Home care for swelling includes:

  • Eat a low salt diet.
  • Elevate the swollen area above the heart.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Restrict fluids in the diet as directed by your doctor.
  • Take prescription medications as directed.

Swelling Low Salt Diet

Swelling can be minimized with a low salt diet.

Facts about salt consumption:

  • The American Heart Association has recommended reduction of dietary sodium to 1,000 mg per 1,000 calories per day, not to exceed 3,000 mg per day total.
  • The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences recommends a daily intake of sodium in the range of 1,100 mg to 3,000 mg for adults.
  • A low salt diet for those with hypertension should contain less than 1,500 mg.
  • A low salt diet for those with congestive heart failure should contain less than 1,500 mg.
  • One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium.

Tips on how to reduce your salt consumption:
  • Airlines will provide low sodium meals with a 24-hour notice.
  • Avoid eating "fast foods."
  • Become compulsory label reader and purchase products that are low in salt.
  • Limit and eventually stop using salt and high sodium seasonings in cooking. Experiment with alternative flavorings such as herbs, spices, fruit juices, vinegar, and wines.
  • Limit and reduce your consumption of salty foods such as pickles, cured meats, salted snacks, and canned soups. Use more fresh products.
  • Look into the wide variety of unsalted food products that are currently on the market.
  • Reduce the amount of high sodium seasonings you use. These include soy sauce, steak sauce, garlic and onion salt, and monosodium glutamate.
  • Reduce the amount of salt you use at the table. Start by cutting the amount you add in half, and eventually remove the saltshaker from the table. Remember, 1 teaspoon of salt equals approximately 2000 mg of sodium.
  • When you are eating out, ask that you order be prepared without added salt.

Swelling Warning Signs

Continue to Swelling Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Jan 5, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Swelling References
  1. Blankfield RP, Finkelhor RS, Alexander JJ, Flocke SA, Maiocco J, Goodwin M, Zyzanski SJ. Etiology and diagnosis of bilateral leg edema in primary care. Am J Med. 1998 Sep;105(3):192-7. [9753021]
  2. Blankfield RP, Zyzanski SJ. Bilateral leg edema, pulmonary hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea: a cross-sectional study. J Fam Pract. 2002 Jun;51(6):561-4. [12100781]
  3. Cohen EG, Soliman AM. Changing trends in angioedema. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2001 Aug;110(8):701-6. [11510724]
  4. O'Brien JG, Chennubhotla SA, Chennubhotla RV. Treatment of edema. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Jun 1;71(11):2111-7. [15952439]
  5. Pedrinelli R, Dell'Omo G, Melillo E, Mariani M. Amlodipine, enalapril, and dependent leg edema in essential hypertension. Hypertension. 2000 Feb;35(2):621-5. [10679507]
  6. Perrin M, Guex JJ. Edema and leg volume: methods of assessment. Angiology. 2000 Jan;51(1):9-12. [10667637]
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