Swelling is a common symptom of inflammation and can occur due to various underlying conditions, such as injury, infection, or chronic diseases. You must have encountered a swollen ankle when you sprained it. Similarly, patients with arthritis (inflamed joints) often suffer from swelling of joints, while skin inflammation can also cause skin swelling.
While swelling helps the immune system heal the site of injury or infection, it can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. However, there are several steps you can take to manage it effectively.
How Does Inflammation Cause Swelling?
Inflammation causes swelling by triggering a series of immune responses in the body. When tissues in the body become inflamed, the small blood vessels in the affected area become more permeable, allowing fluids, white blood cells, and other immune cells to enter the tissue.
As the immune cells accumulate in the inflamed tissue, they release chemicals that further increase the permeability of blood vessels and cause additional fluids to leak into the tissue, leading to swelling.
Swelling due to inflammation is a natural response of the body’s immune system to injury or infection. While it can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, swelling plays an important role in the healing process by helping to protect and repair damaged tissue.
However, persistent swelling can indicate a more serious underlying condition and should be evaluated by a medical professional. The first step in managing swelling due to inflammation is to identify and address the underlying cause.
How to Treat Swelling Associated with Inflammation?
In addition to addressing the underlying cause of swelling, you can take several self-care measures to help manage your symptoms. These include:
Resting is important to subside swelling due to inflammation because it allows the body to divert resources away from physical activity and toward the healing process. By resting, the body can reduce the amount of blood flow to the affected area, which helps to reduce swelling.
When you rest, your body produces less stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to inflammation. Moreover, it can help reduce the pain associated with inflammation, as physical activity can often exacerbate pain and discomfort.
Compression is a therapeutic technique that involves applying pressure to a specific body area to reduce swelling. It involves wearing compression garments or wrapping the affected area with an elastic bandage.
Compression reduces blood flow and improves lymphatic drainage, preventing fluid buildup and subsiding the swelling. It also supports the affected area, which can help reduce pain and discomfort associated with swelling.
When used in conjunction with other treatments, such as cold therapy or heat therapy, compression can be an effective way to reduce swelling caused by inflammation.
Ice, or cold therapy, can also help reduce swelling due to inflammation. When applied to the affected area, ice causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing the amount of blood flow. This reduction in blood flow decreases the number of inflammatory cells and fluids that accumulate in the affected tissue, thereby reducing swelling.
Additionally, ice can help decrease the cells’ metabolic activity in the affected area, which can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Cold therapy can also reduce nerve activity, lowering the pain and discomfort associated with inflammation.
However, overusing or applying ice for too long can lead to tissue damage, so it is important to follow proper guidelines and recommendations for ice therapy.
Elevation is another common method used to reduce swelling due to inflammation. When a limb or body part is elevated, it is raised above the level of the heart. This position helps to promote the drainage of excess fluid from the affected area, reducing swelling.
Elevation also reduces blood flow to the affected area, subbing inflammation and pain. It is often used with cold therapy for maximum benefit.
Taking anti-inflammatory medicines is quite important, besides trying home remedies. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce swelling and relieve pain, while elderberry gummies offer a natural and holistic alternative. Topical treatments such as creams or gels containing menthol, camphor, or capsaicin can also help alleviate discomfort and inflammation.
Diet and Hydration
A healthy, balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, and berries can help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Adequate hydration can also help to flush out excess fluids and toxins, reducing swelling.
Doing gentle exercises such as walking or swimming can help improve circulation and reduce swelling. Exercise promotes lymphatic fluid flow and helps remove excess fluid and waste products from the affected area.
It stimulates the production of anti-inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines and prostaglandins, reducing inflammation and pain. Moreover, exercise improves muscle strength and flexibility, supporting the affected area and preventing further injury or inflammation.
RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), exercise, a balanced diet, and medicines can help manage swelling and promote healing. However, if the swelling does not improve with self-care measures or is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing, it is important to seek medical attention. In some cases, swelling may indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as a blood clot or infection.