Waking up with swollen arms or legs can understandably cause worry and alarm. While moderate swelling often subsides on its own, sudden, severe, or prolonged changes to your body should always be examined by a doctor. Contact your local family practice physician. They should help you through the diagnostic process and find a treatment for these common underlying issues.

Assessing the Swelling

In most cases of swelling, the first step is to examine the site and determine the type of inflammation. For example, localized swelling may raise a bump on your leg or cause a single finger to balloon up. In other situations, you may experience heavy swelling across one or all limbs. Understanding the exact nature and scope of the problem will help your physician isolate the cause. 

Ruling out Lifestyle Factors 

Moderate swelling often occurs as a byproduct of lifestyle factors, which may or may not be unhealthy. Pregnant women, for example, frequently experience swelling in their legs and hands which, while uncomfortable, is also normal. Certain medications may trigger swelling as a side effect, and it can also start due to a lack of exercise, dietary imbalances, or allergies. For these less serious conditions, your doctor may simply recommend some lifestyle changes. 

Screening for Bites and Infections 

Localized inflammation usually indicates an infection or nasty bug bite. This swelling may go away on its own within a few days, but if it grows worse or begins to ooze or smell, seek the opinion of your family doctor. Certain species of spider contain potent venom that can continue to eat away at flesh until treated, and infections have the potential to spread throughout your body.

Checking Lymph Node Function

Another common suspect when it comes to swollen limbs, your lymph nodes regulate the flow of fluids through your body. If your lymph nodes are missing or shut down, such as after cancer treatment, fluids begin to pool around the body. This condition, known as lymphedema, leads to infections, discomfort, and limited movement, but it can be managed by draining, pumping, and treatment of the lymph nodes.

Testing for Blood and Organ Problems

If all of these fail to pinpoint the cause of your swelling, your doctor may order further tests to check for blood clots, kidney problems, heart disease, or liver problems. Catching these more serious issues quickly is often key to their successful treatment, which is why it's so important to visit your family practice physician when you suspect something's wrong. Contact your doctor to learn more about what could be causing your swelling and begin seeking relief today.