Coping with COPD and Edema
If you are a sufferer of COPD, you may experience swelling in your legs and feet. This occurs with pulmonary hypertension that develops after years of having COPD. It is a complication of COPD and occurs because increased pressure has developed in the blood vessels of the lungs.
When there is damage to the vessels, this causes blood to back up into the veins, especially in the legs. The excess fluid leaks into the tissues of the legs. Since gravity doesn’t help the situation, fluid stays put instead of going back into the blood circulation. This causes the swelling in your ankles, feet, and legs as the fluid pools in these areas. Pain and discomfort from the tissue tightness ensues, making it miserable for the person affected. Sometimes the skin may develop superficial tears from the tautness of excessive swelling.
What Can Be Done to Alleviate Edema?
There are some things you can do for your edema. If it is severe, your physician may prescribe diuretic medication to help your body get rid of excess fluid.
- Elevate your feet – Obviously, one of the reasons blood pools in your feet and legs is because of gravity. Try to take time to put your feet up when sitting. Doing leg raises by raising your legs up and down while lying down or sitting up will help the blood get to flowing. This is an easy thing to do pretty much anywhere.
- Turn the dial down on your sodium intake – Your diet may be the culprit as to why you have edema. Sodium consumption beyond 11 or 12 grams a day may cause water retention. Cut back if you can and check your food labels. Some items can have hidden salt in them so you can consume much more than you think. Eating foods rich in potassium can help get rid of sodium in your body. Bananas are most known for their potassium but spinach and avocado are also good choices.
- Massage your legs and feet – Physically working the fluid from your lower extremities would help put it back into circulation. Doing a self-massage can be helpful or you can find someone who will do it for you. Either way will promote better circulation.
- Start at the ankles and lightly massage up to the knees; do not apply too much pressure.
- Apply light pressure to the back of the knees.
- Massage around the kneecap.
- Do this 10 times on each leg for best results.
Doing this technique in a warm bath is a great time to do it, since blood circulation will be at its best.
- Do leg Exercises – There is no special equipment for the leg exercises, but if you cannot do it on the floor on a mat, you can lie on the bed. It would be best if the mattress is firm.
- Lie with your back flat against the floor (or bed).
- Raise legs up in the air.
- Keep them in that way for a few minutes before easing them down. This should allow gravity to drain the fluid from your legs to reduce the swelling.
If you are experiencing severe edema, you should see your physician as soon as possible.