Are swollen feet a warning against kidney disease?

It can often be observed that after working throughout the day our feet seem to be swollen. Given that the print of the socks gets more prominent. So does this mean that your Kidneys are not functioning any longer?

Anybody can encounter swollen feet from time to time. It’s common — particularly after a long walk or standing for long periods. This can easily be resolved by resting those tired legs.

Swollen feet and discoloration of feet.

Let’s explore this topic today. One of the most common problems faced by people in their daily life, also to know more about the reasons due to which we notice swollen feet or legs.

One thing has to be remembered that, the kidney controls the fluid balance in our body, therefore it decides what amount of water is to be utilized or eliminated from the amount of water that we intake. We might not be aware that two other organs besides the Kidneys, silently play a major role in our body’s fluid balance, namely the heart and the endocrine system which is further helped by the liver by synthesizing albumin.

Now let’s simplify the complex physiology that results in swollen feet or legs.
In correspondence to physiological analysis, the first common reason for the occurrence of swollen legs or feet is improper heart diastolic functioning. This is also known as diastolic heart failure or diastolic dysfunction. Our heart works like a pump, given its negative suction, it pulls the anti-gravity fluid and pumps it throughout the body. As our body gradually ages or due to some specific diseases like diabetes or hypertension, the diastolic suction power of our heart reduces. Due to this, though the heart functions properly it fails to pull the anti-gravity fluid through negative suction, thus resulting in swollen feet or legs. Definitely, the Kidneys have nothing to do with it.

Secondly, if there is any disturbance in the Kidney’s functioning, the heart fails to maintain a proper diastolic function, as the fluid handling of the kidney gets disrupted. Thus, it can also be said that maybe the kidney contributes to the heart’s proper diastolic functioning.

Other than the above-mentioned points there are many important factors that have to be taken into consideration when talking about swollen feet on legs.

Weakening of the peripheral heart-
Do we know that the muscle right below our knee, namely gastrocnemius soleus, is called the peripheral heart? This muscle helps in the proper pumping of the fluid to our heart. When we are standing, the peripheral heart contracts to help in the venous return of the blood upwards.
Nowadays as we do not exercise or don’t engage in proper physical activities, our gastrocnemius muscle and soleus muscle turns out to be weak, resulting in Swollen feet and legs.

Medication for blood pressure-
Medication for blood pressure can also be a reason for edema or swollen feet. People suffering from kidney or heart diseases are often prescribed calcium channel blockers, namely- Amlodipine, Cilnidipine, and so on. One of the common side effects of these medicines is swollen feet or legs.
Thus swollen feet might not be directly relevant to damaged kidneys. Although swelling of the feet and legs is one of the most common symptoms, it has to be remembered that if a person’s diastolic functioning of the heart is weak or the gastrocnemius soleus muscles (that help in pumping the blood upwards against gravity) are weak or is under blood pressure controlling medication, that individual might also face edema.

Liver dysfunction leads to improper
albumin formation

Liver dysfunction-
Another significant reason for swollen legs or feet is concomitant liver dysfunction. If a person’s liver is not functioning properly then that results in improper formation of albumin in the body. When there is a dysfunction in albumin formation, the fluid in our body dissipates to the third space from the blood vessels and gets deposited in the legs, might also get deposited in the abdomen. Hence, improper functioning of the liver might also be a reason for edema.

Excess intake of salt-
Adding an excess amount of salt to your diet can also be a reason for edema. Salt has a tendency of retaining fluid in our body. And excess intake of salt increases the hydrostatic pressure of our body due to which the fluid gets stored in our body’s third space or legs from the blood vessels.

Hence the misfunctioning of the kidney or the heart cannot be the only reason for swollen legs, though it is a symptom, it isn’t the only possible outcome. Avoid being panicked and consult a physician before coming to any conclusion. We, doctors, analyze each and every possible factor that leads to swollen feet on the leg for an individual and provide medication or treatment accordingly.

What needs to be avoided?
It can often be seen that people suffering from edema tend to have diuretic medicines that contain Torsemide and Spironolactone. Now, these steps should also be taken under a doctor’s supervision. One must remember that unnecessary indulgence in diuretic medicines is also harmful to the Kidneys. Excess intake of diuretic medicine can lead to the body’s dehydration.

Suppose an individual’s body’s intravascular fluid is less and his legs are swelling due to low albumin. In this scenario, if the individual intakes diuretic medicines it can definitely affect his Kidneys. Hence do not stress your body with self-medication and visit a nephrologist to identify the real disorder.

What should you do?
You probably don’t need to worry, if your feet are swollen for a short duration and disappear after rest. But it is necessary to address your symptoms to a doctor if there is much swelling that leaves an indentation on the feet when pressed with fingers. This might also be accompanied by pain or discoloration of the skin.
There are certain simple tests that can easily determine the reasons for edema in an individual’s body. If you are also suffering from swollen legs or feet then do not ignore it, visit a doctor, get a consultation and place a foot forward towards recovery.

If you are suffering from similar problems hit the chat button for consultation.

Published by Dr.Pratim Sengupta

Dr. Pratim Sengupta thinks of himself as conscious, living, soulful being with an inner urge to break the inertia of life. He feels that life is nothing but a material expression of the Supreme Almighty Consciousness. His conscious existence empowered him to see, to hear, to talk, to interact, to feel, to dream, to ask questions, and to seek solutions to every problem. In the flow of life, as he grew up, he understood that knowledge of life is the only way to understand the scientific basis of conscious existence. Hence Dr. Sengupta felt the urge to study the science of life – i.e. Medicine. After he completed his higher secondary education from the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira in Belurmath, he joined the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) course at RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata. The professional packaging of knowledge in terms of a time-bound, goal-oriented syllabus frustrated him a bit, but nevertheless ignited the urge within him to study further. He thus went on to his post-graduation (MD) in Medicine from IPGMER and SSKM Hospital, Kolkata. During his MD training, he got a glimpse of the vastness of knowledge, and the quest to learn precisely the facts of life narrowed down his area of interest to the functioning of the kidneys and the specialisation of Nephrology – a discipline that is complex, yet relatively new and still evolving in terms of complete understanding of renal physiology and pathology. So, Dr. Sengupta decided to study and train for the DM (Doctorate of Medicine) degree in Nephrology. Right from the start of his career, Dr. Sengupta was passionate about Research. During the MD programme he worked on Cirrhotic Cardiomyopathy, Autonomic Neuropathy of Lupus, and Insulin resistance in Diabetics. All these research studies were published in national journals. During his postdoctoral study in Nephrology, he worked on Hemodialysis efficiency, and suggested an angular placement of the Dialyser in order to increase efficiency. This innovative concept was accepted for presentation at the World Congress of Nephrology, Milan, in 2009, and also published in Hemodialysis International. Dr. Sengupta also worked on Plasmapheresis – a blood filtering technique by which toxic and pathogenic immunoglobulins can be removed from the body. He studied the role of Prethymectomy Plasmapheresis in Myasthenia Gravis patients, and his findings were published in the journal Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. The patient-empowered nutritional model for nutritional care of kidney patients is another interesting and innovative area in which Dr. Sengupta has worked for quite a long time. Dr.Pratim Sengupta won the Bharat Jyoti award for his excellency in the field of medicine. He is also the president of our non-governmental organization, The Kidney Care Society. His tireless contribution to provide quality living for his patients is worth mentioning. He introduced Mukti, blending ancient Indian yoga with modern medicine for well being of every patient. He has also introduced an unique online course "Art of Living with diabetes" which is a complete solution to diabetes management. He has authored many books, blogs, for the patients. Searching and researching for solutions to problems in the field of Nephrology remains the passion and dream of Dr. Pratim Sengupta, and he intends to persist on this journey as long as he is conscious. Meanwhile, even as he pursues his dreams, Dr. Sengupta diligently puts into practice all he has learned about Nephrology over the years, at the Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata and ILS hospital,Dumdum where he is available for his patient

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