My breathing is better. But OMG! My feet are swollen!
August 29, 2014 8:20 PM   Subscribe

I moved to Seattle a few weeks ago, since then I've had difficulties with swollen feet and ankles. It's a little worrying. Should I be worried?

So, I moved to Seattle for health reasons, mostly because I appeared to be allergic to New Mexico and we hoped the change of weather, altitude, and allergens would help. Well, my breathing is a lot better, but holy hell! My feet have swollen up like balloons!

At first it was, like, only at night, and I thought that was due to lack of furniture (no place to put my feet up) but now it's constant. I can hardly wear my shoes because my feet and ankles are so swollen. They're very tender too. They feel bruised. I had some swelling in New Mexico, which my doctor didn't seem to be very concerned about, but nothing like this. It's kinda scary. Every once in a while, my hands will swell up too, but that doesn't last.

I haven't changed my diet in any significant way. I'm exercising more now than I was in New Mexico because we're in an apartment and I have to walk the dogs rather than let them out into the back yard. Plus I have a little extra energy to do so now that I'm not fighting for every breath. I'm drinking tons of water and other fluids (mostly coffee). I'm overweight because of the thyroid problem, but I'm losing weight -- yay for more exercise! I have arch supports in my shoes for when I'm walking. It's not even remotely possible that I'm pregnant (I no longer possess the necessary plumbing).

Before I left New Mexico, I had the veins in my legs checked for a different reason - something about backspacing - they said my veins were "beautiful" and functioning normally. I've also had my heart checked recently and it appears to be working normally. I have hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, and some other comorbid issues.

But what I guess I'm asking is, should I be worried about this? Most websites say "no". But it's uncomfortable and getting to be quite painful actually. And if I shouldn't be worried about it at this point (three weeks in), at what point should I start to become concerned?

Also, YANMD, but any idea why my feet would react so violently to moving to Seattle? I'm in the process of finding a doctor, but it's not an easy thing when one unemployed.
posted by patheral to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Remember that correlation does not equal causation. Your newly swollen ankles may have nothing whatsoever to do with the climate/environment/activity levels of your new location.

But it does sound worrisome to me. Visit a walk-in clinic for an assessment.
posted by peakcomm at 8:53 PM on August 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

My hands and feet get VERY swollen whenever I significantly increase my exercise. Also, humidity seems to increase the chances a bit, so that could be a factor given that we're approaching the humid season in the PNW.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:33 PM on August 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Go ahead and check your blood pressure in one of those free machines at the drugstore, and get a primary doctor sooner rather than later. You can always change doctors so just go with one who seems OK for now and then shop for Dr Perfect. In the mean time, experiment with taking breaks with your feet up every hour or two and reduce salt intake. Try for example, a day of low-salt eating (no chips or packaged snack foods, no canned foods, no salt added to meals) and see if that makes a difference.
posted by latkes at 9:37 PM on August 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

For sliding scale fee health care in Seattle a great place to go is The country Doctor. I've had many unemployed / low income friends go there. Good luck!
posted by scigirl at 10:42 PM on August 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you have an edema problem, there are regimens and meds that will make you more comfortable. You should see a doctor.
posted by Cranberry at 11:33 PM on August 29, 2014

When I moved to Denver my feet and hands swelled up for a few weeks. The same thing happened when I moved back to New York. I blamed the change in elevation and climate (high, temperate, and dry vs. low, hot, and wet), but I completely made that up. Well, not completely. I know edema happens at altitude, and I also know that there is such a thing as heat edema. A friend of mine recently moved to Olympia and was complaining about oppressive, humid heat last week.

Persistent edema is something I would get checked out. Even if it's just a reaction to the different climate or change in lifestyle, there are drugs you can take to relieve the pressure.
posted by xyzzy at 12:22 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Qliance is a great medical resource for the unemployed. It's primary care with a monthly fee, like a gym fee, for unllimited visits and some free supplies and prescriptions. I have considered them even though I have health insurance. They're reviewed really well and can get you in quickly.
posted by sweltering at 2:10 AM on August 30, 2014

I feel like this should get auto-posted whenever someone posts a medical question, but: this is a good reason to go see a doctor. You're probably not in heart failure, but we have no way to ascertain that through the Internet. You should go see a primary care doctor!
posted by killdevil at 7:51 AM on August 30, 2014

Humidity makes my ankles swell, as does too much walking. I find magnesium tablets taken at night before bed so I don't get that embarrassing red flush help me immeasurably, usually takes a day or 2 to kick in.

Try support socks, the kind they use for airplane travel work well for me when doing more walking than I am used too, they are reasonably priced. I wear them for a week or so while my body gets used to the new levels of walking.

If neither of those things help then doctor it up.
posted by wwax at 8:19 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest trying compression socks, too. You should be able to get them at any pharmacy. It might get you a little more time to get a doctor, and hopefully, some relief.
posted by annsunny at 9:31 AM on August 30, 2014

Oops, totally spacey today... I also meant to share a small personal experience. I had a problem with swollen feet and ankles for a short time. When I talked to my doc about it, she ordered a kidney function test. They were fine, but after a while of thinking about it, I realized that taking aspirin may have been a problem. I had been using it almost exclusively for pain, because another medication I was on at the time was hard on the liver. Aspirin is processed through the kidneys, if I understand correctly. Anyway, had a *snap* moment, and started taking other types of painkillers. It almost completely got rid of my swelling. YMMV.
posted by annsunny at 12:22 PM on August 30, 2014

I've lived in humid climates before (Mississippi, Virginia, Florida, etc...) and have never had this issue with edema. I only lived in New Mexico for two and a half years, it was Mississippi before that. Can so much have changed in two and a half years? Well, health-wise I guess a lot did. I didn't have thyroid issues when I lived in Mississippi.

Okay, I'll see what I can do about finding a doctor sooner rather than later.
posted by patheral at 1:04 PM on August 30, 2014

Hashimoto's thyroiditis can cause water retention and swelling. It's possible you need a dosage increase in your thyroid hormone pills. I agree with others that you should see a doctor (particularly to check for heart failure).
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 7:14 PM on August 30, 2014

Seconding Qliance. I use them and they're great.
posted by lovecrafty at 8:50 PM on August 30, 2014

So I signed up for Qliance... and I have an appointment for this coming Friday. I also stopped eating certain foods that were probably contributing to water retention and my feet aren't nearly as bad as they were -- still retaining water, but not as bad.

I appreciate the advice y'all.
posted by patheral at 12:32 PM on September 6, 2014

Just as a last note before comments close. Thanks for the recommendation for Qliance. I found them to be very friendly and accommodating. The doctor listened to me and I have a recommendation for a endocrinologist for my thyroid issues. I don't think I've ever been recommended to a specialist that quickly in my life. It's nice to be listened to and heard.
posted by patheral at 11:46 AM on October 4, 2014

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