Recent pictures of Prince Charles’ swollen fingers have once caught the attention of the internet community who showed their concern over the royal’s condition that goes back to at least 1982 – when he joked about his ‘sausage fingers’ in a letter to a friend after Prince William was born. While there could be other reasons behind swelling in fingers, health experts say in Prince William’s case it could be due to oedema.

Oedema is a condition when the body starts to retain fluids and the fingers and legs start to swell. Oedema is a common condition and mostly affects people over the age of 65.

“The most common symptom of oedema is noticeable swelling in hands and legs and if you press the swollen area for about 15 seconds, a noticeable dimple is formed in the area. The second is a shiny and stretched look on the skin,” says Dr Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics.

If you suspect that you have oedema then some common swelling symptoms include:

• The area of the body becomes larger

• Difficulty in walking or sitting

• Light pain in the swollen area

• The area feels hot and red to touch

• Tightness in the swollen part’

When to be worried about oedema

Dr Kapoor says if it starts to hurt much or you have pain and shivers along with swelling then it is time to consult your doctor for a cure.

Causes of oedema

• Standing for a long duration

• Long haul flights

• Intake of salty foods

• Pregnancy

• Blood clot

• Weather changes

• Psoriatic arthritis

• Liver disease

• Cognitive heart problems

• Kidney diseases such as diabetes

• Covid 19

• Weakened vein valves

• Side effects of medications

• Poor nutrition

• Immune system problems

How to prevent oedema

“The science on oedema is constantly changing but it can be avoided with little care on the patient’s part.

Your doctor will do extensive tests to find out the cause of oedema and then treat the underlying problems. Your doctor will prescribe a diuretic (a medication) to ensure that the body retains low amounts of fluid,” says Dr Kapoor.

Lifestyle tips to manage oedema

• Limit your intake of salt and alcohol in your daily diet

• Keeping your legs or hands elevated when sitting or lying down

• Avoiding sitting for long periods especially when flying and travelling for long durations

• Using support stockings and sleeves to prevent fluid collection in legs and arms

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