Swelling, also known as edema, is the name for an increase in size, or change in shape, of an area of the body.\nSwelling is a symptom of a variety of conditions, but there is always an underlying cause. Sometimes, the source of swelling can be serious and require immediate medical attention.\nSo, if you notice a swollen area on your body, it’s important to identify the reason.\nTypes of Swelling\nBody parts swell when body fluid is retained, or collects in a certain tissue, joint, or other area. Swelling can be internal or external, localized or generalized.\nExternal swelling, typically affecting skin or muscles, is visible and usually due to an insect bite, illness, or injury. Internal swelling, which affects organs or other areas inside the body, usually has a more serious cause.\nLocalized swelling refers to swelling in just one area of the body, such as from a bee sting or an ankle sprain. Generalized swelling affects the whole body and is often the result of a major traumatic injury or allergic reaction.\nReasons for Swelling\n\nInjury \u2013 Swelling often occurs at the site of injuries\u00a0including\u00a0strikes to the body, sprains, muscle strains, and bone fractures, because small tears in the surrounding blood vessels cause fluid to leak into the area.\nInfection \u2013 Pockets of pus or other fluids may form at the site of an infection. This may actually help to resolve the infection, as extra fluids indicate the presence of infection-fighting white blood cells.\nAllergic reaction \u2013 Large areas of the body may swell during an allergic reaction, which requires medical attention, especially if swelling of the face, tongue, or throat occurs.\nBurns\/chemical burns\nInsect bites \u2013 Most insect stings and bites result in redness and swelling. If extreme swelling, redness, and itching occur, you may be having an allergic reaction to the bite.\nInflammation \u2013 Joints or tendons may swell after repeated motion or overuse.\nAutoimmune\/chronic diseases or circulation problems\nPregnancy \u2013 Pregnant women often experience swelling of the hands and feet, especially as pregnancy progresses.\nMenstruation \u2013 Many women retain fluid during menstruation, resulting in swelling.\nStanding, sitting, or walking for a long time in the heat may cause swelling of the lower legs.\nSome medications\nSurgery \u2013 Some swelling is normal after surgery at the site of an incision or affected area.\nOther serious medical conditions like cirrhosis, liver\/kidney disease or heart disease\n\nHow to Treat Swelling\nOften, swelling will reduce on its own over time. You can take steps to help reduce swelling.\n\nGet plenty of rest to protect the affected area.\nElevate the swollen area to above your heart.\nFor more serious swelling, the underlying cause may need to be treated by doctors. An exam and\/or imaging tests can help determine issues.\nYour doctor may be able to prescribe medication or recommend other methods to reduce the swelling.\n\nIf you notice sudden, extreme, or unexplained swelling, or if your swelling is due to a serious injury or medical condition, call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately or visit a UPMC Urgent Care location.