When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Seek emergency medical care if you have leg swelling and any of the following signs or symptoms, which can indicate a blood clot in your lungs or a serious heart condition:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath with exertion or lying flat in bed
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Coughing blood

Also, seek immediate care if your leg swelling:

  • Occurs suddenly and for no apparent reason
  • Is related to a physical injury, such as from a fall, a sports injury or a car accident
  • Occurs in one leg and is painful, or is accompanied by cool, pale skin

Schedule a doctor's visit

Nonemergency problems related to leg swelling still need prompt care. Leg swelling that is the side effect of a drug can look just like leg swelling caused by a kidney disorder. Make an appointment as soon as possible so that your doctor can diagnose the cause.

Before your appointment, consider the following tips:

  • Restrict the amount of salt in your diet.
  • Put a pillow under your legs when lying down, which may lessen swelling related to the buildup of fluid.
  • Wear elastic compression stockings, but avoid stockings that are tight around the top — if you can see the indentation from the elastic, they might be too tight.
  • If you need to stand or sit for long periods, give yourself frequent breaks and move around, unless the movement causes pain.
  • Don't stop taking a prescription medication without talking to your doctor, even if you suspect it may be causing leg swelling.
  • Over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) might ease pain associated with the swelling.
March 25, 2020

See also

  1. ACL injury
  2. Acute kidney failure
  3. Anorexia nervosa
  4. Arteriovenous fistula
  5. Atrial septal defect (ASD)
  6. Baker's cyst
  7. Behcet's disease
  8. Blood tests for heart disease
  9. Ebstein Anomaly
  10. Ebstein Anomaly Part Two: Patient Frequently Asked Questions
  11. Fact or Fiction? Debunking Exercise & Nutrition Myths for Preventing Heart Disease and Risk Factors
  12. Giant Cell Myocarditis
  13. Healthy Heart Numbers
  14. Heart disease in women
  15. Jack Long — Live Long, Beat Strong to Find a Cure
  16. Mayo Clinic offers congenital heart care: Marcus' story
  17. Sports Cardiology Program
  18. Treating Pericarditis
  19. Valve problems in children with heart disease: What patients and families should know
  20. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  21. Cardiomyopathy
  22. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  23. Cirrhosis
  24. Congenital heart defects in children
  25. Daily aspirin therapy
  26. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  27. Ebstein anomaly
  28. Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
  29. Flaxseed: Does it affect risk of prostate cancer?
  30. Flu shots and heart disease
  31. Frequent sex: Does it protect against prostate cancer?
  32. Grass-fed beef
  33. Hamstring injury
  34. Hashimoto's disease
  35. Healthy eating: One step at a time
  36. Healthy Heart for Life!
  37. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  38. Heart disease
  39. Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors
  40. Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease
  41. Knee pain
  42. Membranous nephropathy
  43. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  44. Myocarditis
  45. Neuroblastoma
  46. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  47. Omega-3 in fish
  48. Omega-6 fatty acids
  49. Osgood-Schlatter disease
  50. Pericarditis
  51. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  52. Pomegranate juice: A cure for prostate cancer?
  53. Posterior cruciate ligament injury
  54. Prostate cancer
  55. Prostate cancer: Does PSA level affect prognosis?
  56. Prostate cancer brachytherapy: Can I pass radiation to others?
  57. Infographic: Prostate Cancer: Choline c-11
  58. Prostate cancer metastasis: Where does prostate cancer spread?
  59. Prostate cancer prevention
  60. Prostate cancer treatment: Does initial treatment preclude others later?
  61. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  62. Pulmonary embolism
  63. Put fish on the menu
  64. Red wine, antioxidants and resveratrol
  65. Spider vein removal
  66. Heart disease prevention
  67. Swollen knee
  68. Varicose veins
  69. Vasectomy: Does it increase my risk of prostate cancer?
  70. Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  71. Endovenous thermal ablation
  72. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  73. Warfarin side effects
  74. Watch an interview with Fernando C Fervenza MD PhD
  75. Wilson's disease
  76. Infographic: Women and Heart Disease