Diabetes and Swollen Feet: What You Need to Know

For people with diabetes, having swollen feet is a common problem. Some people may never encounter it, while others might have a chronic issue with it. Either way, it’s a symptom you should watch out for and make sure you treat it promptly if you ever get it.

Swollen feet often occur as a result of poorly controlled blood sugar, and it’s especially common in diabetics who already have heart, liver, and kidney issues. Over time, high blood sugar erodes the lining of small blood vessels in the body’s extremities, which can lead to problems with circulation and an accumulation of fluid in the hands, legs, and feet.

Luckily, if you suffer from fluid accumulation and swelling, there are several things you can try that might help reduce the swelling and make your legs and feet look and feel better.

Photo: Adobe Stock/chuugo

Limit your sodium intake

Sodium causes the body to retain fluid, so if you’re already having problems with swelling, consuming a lot of salt will only make it worse. Sadly, salt is a sneaky preservative that makes its way into a lot of the foods in our pantries and refrigerators, so you’ll need to pay close attention to nutritional labels when choosing foods to eat.

Exercise regularly

Living a sedentary lifestyle can increase swelling in your extremities. Exercising, on the other hand, can activate your lymphatic system and help your body remove the fluid that causes swelling. Getting exercise on a regular basis can do a lot to help not only the swelling in your feet but also your weight, which in turn can reduce swelling even more! Swimming, cycling, and walking are good low-impact options if exercising is hard for you.

Photo: Adobe Stock/toa555

Elevate your feet

We can’t all be active all the time, so when you’re sitting or lying down, do your best to elevate your feet above your heart, or as high as you can get them. You can use pillows or other props to achieve this position, which allows gravity to help your body move fluid back out of the feet.

Wear compression socks

Compression socks are tall socks that are meant to be worn tightly around the feet and legs, and they are great for swollen feet, especially if you’re on your feet a lot. The pressure from the socks forces fluid back out of the feet and into the rest of the body, but they need to be worn pretty regularly for best results.

Photo: Adobe Stock/New Africa

Shed the extra pounds

Of course, we know this one is easier said than done. But if you’re looking for a long-term solution to your swollen feet and you’re willing to put in the work, losing some extra weight can really help with this issue.


Photo: Adobe Stock/Cherries

And of course, keeping your blood sugar in check is always a great way to help with swollen feet in the long-term. If you have other tips and tricks for dealing with swollen feet, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?

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