5 Medicines That Help Relieve Swelling
Swelling can be very uncomfortable and limits regular function. However, various medicine options can help control fluid build-up and reduce swelling effectively
Swelling, also known as edema, occurs when excess fluid gets trapped in your body’s tissues. It usually affects the hands, arms, feet, ankles and legs, but can occur elsewhere. Swelling may cause a stretching or tight feeling in the skin over the swollen area.
Though sometimes harmless, swelling can indicate an underlying medical issue. It’s always best to get swelling checked by your doctor. Once the cause is found, there are several medicines available that can provide relief.
Here are 5 medicines that help relieve swelling:
What it is: Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme extracted from pineapples used to treat soft tissue swelling and injuries. Available as an oral supplement.
How it helps: Bromelain blocks pro-inflammatory metabolites to decrease swelling. It also boosts fibrinolytic activity like nattokinase.
Dosing: Typical dosing recommendations are about 500-800 mg taken two or three times daily, between meals. Quality and purity are important when selecting supplements.
What they are: Diuretics are a class of drugs that help reduce swelling by making you urinate more frequently. This helps flush excess water and salt from the body.
How they help: Diuretics work by telling the kidneys to remove more sodium and water from the bloodstream. The sodium and water leave through urine. Having less sodium and water circulating helps minimize swelling and pressure.
Types: There are three main types of diuretics:
– Thiazide diuretics
– Loop diuretics
– Potassium-sparing diuretics
Thiazide and loop diuretics are the most commonly prescribed for edema. However, potassium-sparing diuretics may be used if the other diuretic types cause too much potassium loss.
What they are: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also help reduce swelling. NSAIDs decrease inflammation and swelling by blocking the production of compounds called prostaglandins.
How they help: Prostaglandins control inflammation and swelling in the body. NSAIDs prevent prostaglandins from being made by blocking certain enzymes. This leads to reduced inflammation, pain, and swelling.
Types: There are many NSAID options, including over-the-counter as well as prescription medications. The choice depends on one’s specific health history and cause of swelling.
What they are: Steroids, or corticosteroids, are very effective at decreasing inflammation and swelling in the body. They can be taken orally or injected directly into swollen areas.
How they help: Steroids work by reducing the activity of the immune system, which is responsible for inflammation as part of the healing process. Lower immune system activation means less inflammation and fluid build-up.
Types: Steroids come in various strengths and potencies. Choice depends on the severity and location of swelling. Mild cases may use lower potency oral forms. Severe swelling may need locally injected high potency steroids.
– Prednisone – oral
– Dexamethasone – oral or injection
– Triamcinolone – injection
– Betamethasone – injection
Steroid use does come with side effects with longer-term use, so must be carefully managed under medical guidance.
5. Blood Pressure Medications
What they are: Certain blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors and ARBs can minimize fluid retention and swelling. They were designed to relax blood vessels originally, but have helpful secondary effects.
How they help: ACE inhibitors and ARBs block the formation of a hormone called angiotensin II. This hormone normally causes blood vessels to constrict and signals the kidneys to hold on to fluid. Blocking it leads to vessel relaxation and fluid elimination.
Both effects minimize swelling caused by trapped fluid.
When to See Your Doctor
It’s important to meet with your doctor for an exam if you develop swelling. Getting an accurate diagnosis of the cause will determine the best treatment options beyond self-care remedies.
Your doctor can rule out dangerous causes like infection, blood clots, or heart failure, and distinguish between mild, moderate or severe swelling when recommending medications or compression garments.
Make sure you understand when and how to take any prescribed medicines, including instructions about dosages, side effects or concerns. Never take anyone else’s medicine without approval from your healthcare provider.
In some cases, further testing like bloodwork, urine tests or imaging scans may be required to pinpoint why swelling developed to inform the ideal management approach.
Swelling can be incredibly uncomfortable and disrupt daily activities. Thankfully, various medicine options as described above can help control fluid buildup and minimize puffiness effectively.
If swelling persists despite self-care and medicine, contact your doctor right away for reassessment. Significant or worsening edema may necessitate hospital care to avoid complications.
Catching and properly treating the swelling early is key to preventing it from becoming more serious long-term.