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What causes chronic edema in the legs that is leading to the inability to walk by afternoon?

Answered by
Dr. Ornela Ademovi

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 645 Questions

Posted on Fri, 11 Jan 2019 in Blood Disorders
Question: My ankles and legs have been swollen for a long time. I have edema so bad that I can put a dent in my leg with my thumb and it takes over an hour to get right. I've had an ultrasound of my heart and it was negative. All my blood work is negative. I seem fine, but I can hardly walk by the afternoon. My doctor has not given me any medication for this and I'm already on blood thinners from a PE I had 19 years ago. What can I do?
Answered by Dr. Ornela Ademovi 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
There are other causes of edema beside heart problems

Detailed Answer:


There are so many causes for fluids to build up in the legs such as heart, lung, kidney, liver and thyroid disease, as well as diseases of the lymphatic system. However, your blood work would usually hint at most of these in case any of the above mentioned were the cause. I would still like you to do a thyroid hormone level and an albumin level in order to rule out a thyroid gland or kidney problem.

I would also recommend you do a chest X-ray to rule out a recurrence of PE. Sometimes, it can be so subtle as to not cause major symptoms.

Edema in menopause is not uncommon, so once organic causes are ruled out, this could be a plausible explanation.

Also, reducing salt intake would be the sensible thing to do. I recommend using compression socks, if you aren't already doing so.

I hope this helps.

Wishing you good health and all the best.

Dr. Ornela Ademovi
General & Family Physician
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Kampana

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