What Causes Swelling? Reasons You Feel Swollen

Face, feet, or even tongue suddenly swollen? Experts share why this happens, what you can do, and when you should worry.

You’re eating artificial sweeteners

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Enjoy the sweet stuff in those pink, yellow, or blue packets? That could be what causes swelling. Author of The Sugar-Free Miracle™ Diet Handbook, Karen Bentley suggests staying far away from artificial sweeteners. She points to the Nurses’ Health study, which involved over 3,000 women and showed that just two or more servings of diet soda (which contain artificial sweeteners) a day could lead to up to a 30 percent decrease in kidney function. When kidney function is compromised, there’s less fluid in blood vessels, she explains. The result: You’re prone to body swelling. Your best bet, according to Bentley, is to refrain from eating or drinking items that contain saccharine, aspartame, or sucralose.

You’re insulin resistant

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Bentley explains that if you’re insulin resistant, which is commonly linked with type 2 diabetes, you’re likely to experience body swelling. “In her book Suicide by Sugar, sugar expert Nancy Appleton, PhD, explains that insulin resistance causes the body to retain sodium,” Bentley says. “This causes the body to retain more fluid and swell.” Do your best to monitor all kinds of sugar intake—from table sugar and honey to agave and molasses—as they all have the potential to interfere with insulin production and lead to swelling. Here are 13 natural remedies for gout pain and swelling.

You’re cleaning your face all wrong

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Jonathan Kantor, MD, medical director at the Florida Center for Dermatology, in Augustine, Florida, says that an improper skin care routine could be what causes swelling for you, and several other issues. “Sometimes, swelling on the face can be caused by being too rough on the skin, whether from using a loofah (don’t!) or harsh cleansers or astringents,” he says. “In these cases, often less is more.” He suggests using a very gentle cleanser on the face, washing only with your hands alone (no washcloth or scrubbing device), and refraining from picking at delicate facial skin.

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