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What causes severe swelling in legs, feet, arms and shortness of breath?

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Posted on Tue, 24 May 2016
Question: I recently went to the hospital for shortness of breath due to swelling in my abdomen,legs, and feet. They gave me a prescription for an inhaler. The swelling has not gone down. In fact it has gotten much worse, to the point that I can barely walk. I have also noticed swelling in my arms and hands now as well. Should I go back to the hospital?
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Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James (34 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
yes, you may need to go back

Detailed Answer:
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

Swelling is due to fluid collection.

If fluid has also collected in the lungs then this can cause shortness of breath, though there are other causes as well.

If the abdomen is significantly swollen , it can compress on the chest and also contribute to shortness of breath.

You should go back if the swelling is worsening along with the shortness of breath.

You may need a chest x ray, along with blood tests. The blood tests would likely be a complete blood count, liver and kidney function.
They may also want to do an ECG to check function of the heart.

Abnormal heart, kidney and liver function can sometimes cause swelling.It can also occur in allergies or infection as well.

In some cases the exact cause is not known

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 16810 Questions

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What causes severe swelling in legs, feet, arms and shortness of breath?

Brief Answer: yes, you may need to go back Detailed Answer: HI, thanks for using healthcare magic Swelling is due to fluid collection. If fluid has also collected in the lungs then this can cause shortness of breath, though there are other causes as well. If the abdomen is significantly swollen , it can compress on the chest and also contribute to shortness of breath. You should go back if the swelling is worsening along with the shortness of breath. You may need a chest x ray, along with blood tests. The blood tests would likely be a complete blood count, liver and kidney function. They may also want to do an ECG to check function of the heart. Abnormal heart, kidney and liver function can sometimes cause swelling.It can also occur in allergies or infection as well. In some cases the exact cause is not known I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions