What to Do When Alcohol Causes Swollen Feet? (2023)

Have you ever gotten home from a night out, kicked off your strangely tight shoes, and found that your feet look puffy and swollen? It’s a fairly common symptom that could stem from a variety of causes. If it happens after drinking, the alcohol could be causing it.

In many cases, this is a benign symptom that goes away on its own.

If you’re uncomfortable, it can also be remedied by a few simple methods. However, swelling in your feet can also be an indication of some serious medical problems.

Learn more about this symptom, how it can be stopped, and what else it might indicate about your body.

Why Do My Feet Swell When I Drink Alcohol?

Different food items and environmental causes can lead to swelling feet. One of these causes is alcohol. Drinking alcohol can cause your body to retain water. Why? There are a few biological reasons for this.

When you drink alcohol, you are consuming water, ethanol (drinking alcohol), and things like sugars and fats, depending on what’s mixed into your drink. Your body can store sugar, fat, and water, but it has no way to deal with alcohol other than to filter it out. When alcohol gets into your bloodstream, your body essentially treats it like poison and prioritizes processing it.

Your body works to process alcohol first so that other things like the water and sugar may go to storage, causing water retention. Fluids start to collect in your body tissue, and gravity makes water collect in your feet and sometimes your hands. After you stop drinking and your body can filter it out of your system, you may start to see the swelling go down.

(Video) Alcohol and Edema

How To Reduce Swelling After Drinking Alcohol

Swelling after a night of drinking is usually temporary and may be gone within 24 to 48 hours. However, there are some things you can do to relieve swelling and any discomfort it’s causing by getting rid of water retention after drinking alcohol.

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(Video) Here's what you should do if you have swollen feet

Stop Drinking Alcohol

If you’re starting to feel bloated, the first thing you should do is to stop drinking. Let your body process the alcohol and filter it out of your system. Pay attention to your swelling the next morning or after 12 to 24 hours. As your body processes out the alcohol and then returns to processing other liquids normally, your swelling should go down. If the swelling lasts for a long time and doesn’t go away after a day or two, you may want to speak to a doctor about other potential causes.

Drink Water

Drinking water may seem like the opposite of what you should do when you have a fluids problem, especially considering the fact that the swelling is due in part to alcohol-caused water retention, but increasing your water intake can help reduce swelling. It’s also common to notice your hands and feet swelling after walking around all day on a hot day. That could be because dehydration is sending your body into conservation mode. When you don’t get enough water, your cells hold on to as much water as possible, which causes swelling.

Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it causes your body to lose water through urine. Most people who have drunk alcohol will know that you can get up multiple times to pee even when you just have a few beers.

What to Do When Alcohol Causes Swollen Feet? (1)

Drinking water can help replace some of the fluids you lose because of alcohol. Dehydration also contributes to hangover symptoms, so staying hydrated and moderating your alcohol intake can help you avoid a hangover.

Stop Eating Salt

Salty foods go well with certain beverages, but they also contribute to swelling and inflammation. High amounts of salt can make you retain water. Sodium in your blood serves to draw water into your blood vessels, causing them to expand and swell. This can also raise your blood pressure, and a consistent salty diet can lead to heart disease. Excessive amounts of alcohol can also increase your blood pressure.

A diet high in salt and alcohol can thicken the walls of your blood vessels so that they can cope with extra pressure, which raises your blood pressure even more. If you stop eating salt and drink more water right now, your swelling may go down. If you limit salt and alcohol consistently, your blood pressure may also go down.

Elevate Your Feet

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(Video) Edema: Swollen Feet, Swollen Ankles & Swollen Legs [FIX Them FAST!]

This is a fairly simple solution. If you have too much fluid in your feet, elevate your feet and let gravity work for you. This can help to ease discomfort, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the issues that are causing swelling and inflammation.

Soak Your Feet In Cold Water

Soaking your feet in cold water can also provide some quick relief to swollen feet. Blood vessels contract when they’re cold, which can help reduce swelling. You can also try soaking in Epsom salt. The theory is similar to how sodium draws water into your blood when it’s in your body. The salt is absorbed into the skin and draws water out of the body. It also boosts the magnesium in your body, which can act as an anti-inflammatory. However, it’s a good idea to moisturize after an Epsom salt bath. Drawing water out of your skin can leave it dry and irritated.

Other Dangerous Causes

If alcohol causes your feet to swell after a night of drinking, it’s most likely temporary. If the swelling doesn’t go down, alcohol could be causing other serious problems. Swelling is a symptom of the following problems that heavy alcohol use can contribute to:

(Video) Home Remedies for Swollen Feet | Edema Remedy


Issues like hepatitis and liver cirrhosis can be dangerous problems that are caused by frequent excessive drinking or alcoholism. Alcoholic hepatitis is when your liver swells and can’t function like it’s supposed to. This can lead to the retention of fluids that cause your hands, feet, and belly to swell. Cirrhosis is caused by years of heavy drinking and involves liver scarring that impedes important functions.


Frequent heavy alcohol use can also damage your kidneys over time. Kidneys help to process liquid and help control the overall water content in your body. If they are damaged, it can lead to more water in your body, which causes bloating and swelling in the extremities.


Alcoholism can also cause a condition called cardiomyopathy, which is damage to your heart, causing it to stretch and weaken over time. A weak heart struggles to pump blood throughout the body, and fluids can leak into your body tissues. A common symptom of this problem is swelling hands and feet.

If your swelling persists and you have a history of heavy alcohol use, speak to your doctor as soon as possible to rule out potentially dangerous complications.


Why do my feet swell only when I drink alcohol? ›

One of the often overlooked causes of swollen feet is related to the consumption of alcohol. When an individual drinks alcohol, especially in excessive quantities, this can cause them to retain water inside their bodies. This extra water retention can lead people to experience swelling in their feet.

How long does alcohol edema last? ›

It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months for the appearance of bloating to reduce, depending on the cause and severity. In this article, we describe how alcohol can cause a bloated appearance in the stomach. We also look into how long alcohol-related bloating lasts and how to get rid of it.

How long does it take for inflammation from alcohol to go away? ›

Acute Inflammation

This often results in hangover symptoms like headaches and nausea. Some other acute inflammation side effects include dehydration, face puffiness, inflamed stomach lining, and swollen feet. Typically these symptoms can resolve themselves within a few days after drinking.

Can too much alcohol cause swollen feet and ankles? ›

Drinking alcohol can lead to swollen feet and ankles since your body retains more water after drinking. Usually, it'll go away within a few days. If the swelling doesn't subside during this time, it could be cause for concern.

How do you get rid of swollen feet? ›

How to ease swelling yourself
  1. raise your legs or the swollen area on a chair or pillows when you can.
  2. get some gentle exercise, like walking, to improve your blood flow.
  3. wear wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole.
  4. wash, dry and moisturise your feet to avoid infections.

How do you prevent swelling from alcohol? ›

How to Prevent the Risk of Alcohol Bloating?
  1. 1 Drink water. If you know you will be having more than just a glass of wine, make sure you drink a lot of water to get rid of alcohol bloating. ...
  2. 2 Avoid carbonated drinks. ...
  3. 3 Quit smoking while drinking. ...
  4. 4 Drink slowly. ...
  5. 5 Do not overindulge in salty foods.

How do you reduce swelling fast? ›

Lifestyle and home remedies
  1. Use pressure. If edema affects an arm or leg, wearing compression stockings, sleeves or gloves might help. ...
  2. Move. Moving and using the muscles in the part of the body that's swollen, especially the legs, might help move fluid back toward the heart. ...
  3. Raise. ...
  4. Massage. ...
  5. Protect. ...
  6. Reduce salt.
Jan 4, 2023

How long does it take for edema to go down? ›

Depending on the cause of your diagnosis, edema could be temporary or permanent. Swelling normally lasts for a few days. In the first two days, you will experience the most swelling, and it should start to reduce by the third day.

Why do my lower legs swell when I drink alcohol? ›

Drinking alcohol can cause swelling in the feet and ankles that generally goes away as your body processes the alcohol and removes it from your system. Swelling in the feet based on alcohol consumption generally isn't serious if it's infrequent.

What 3 weeks without alcohol does to your body? ›

For those who experience benefits of three weeks without alcohol, here are some of the most common positive changes:
  • More energy.
  • Better sleep.
  • More free time.
  • Weight loss.
  • Better memory.
  • Improved skin.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression.
  • More money.
Dec 21, 2021

What alcohol is the least inflammatory? ›

Red wine has greater anti-inflammatory action than other alcohols. indeed have heart health benefits over other alcoholic drinks.

What is the best alcoholic drink for inflammation? ›

Red wine has a compound in it called resveratrol, which has well-established anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies show wine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of knee OA, and moderate drinking is also associated with a reduced risk of RA.

When should I be concerned about swollen feet? ›

Get medical care as soon as possible if: You have unexplained, painful swelling of your feet or legs, particularly if it's only in one leg. The swollen area becomes warm, red or inflamed. The swelling is accompanied by a fever.

When should you go to the hospital for swollen feet and legs? ›

Seek medical care right away if your legs swell for no apparent reason, especially if you have unexplained leg pain, difficulty breathing, chest pain or other warning signs of a blood clot in your lungs or a heart condition. Many factors — varying greatly in severity — can cause leg swelling.

Why do my feet and ankles hurt when I drink alcohol? ›

Alcohol can be toxic to nerve tissue. People who drink too much may start to feel pain and tingling in their limbs. This is known as alcoholic neuropathy. In people with alcoholic neuropathy, the peripheral nerves have been damaged by too much alcohol use.

Can swollen feet be reversed? ›

Edema cannot be “cured.” The only way to treat edema is to treat the condition that is causing it. But there are some things you can do to keep the swelling down. Put a pillow under your legs when you are lying down. Wear support stockings, which you can buy at most drugstores.

What causes extremely swollen feet? ›

The abnormal buildup of fluid in the body is called edema. Edema is commonly seen in the feet and ankles, because of the effect of gravity, swelling is particularly noticeable in these locations. Common causes of edema are prolonged standing, prolonged sitting, pregnancy, being overweight, and increase in age.

How do you drain edema fluid? ›

Elevate Your Feet

One of the best home remedies to treat edema in the legs and feet is to elevate these areas to encourage fluid drainage. To do this, prop up your feet with a pillow or footrest. Try to keep your feet elevated for 30 minutes to an hour when possible.

What's a good home remedy for swollen feet? ›

Here are 10 to try.
  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. ...
  • Buy compression socks. ...
  • Soak in a cool Epsom salt bath for about 15 to 20 minutes. ...
  • Elevate your feet, preferably above your heart. ...
  • Get moving! ...
  • Magnesium supplements can be helpful for some people. ...
  • 7. Make some dietary changes. ...
  • Lose weight if you're overweight.

What home remedy takes swelling down? ›

  1. REST. If you have an injury like a sprained ankle or tendonitis, rest is one of the best ways to manage that injury at home. ...
  2. ICE. You can also apply cold therapy systems such as ice packs or ice baths to injuries. ...
  3. MEDICATION. ...

How do I reduce swelling in 5 minutes? ›

Some of the more common ways to reduce facial swelling include:
  1. Getting more rest. ...
  2. Increasing your water and fluid intake.
  3. Applying a cold compress to the swollen area.
  4. Applying a warm compress to promote the movement of fluid buildup.
Oct 16, 2018

How do I get rid of fluid in my legs and feet? ›

Home Care
  1. Put your legs on pillows to raise them above your heart while lying down.
  2. Exercise your legs. ...
  3. Follow a low-salt diet, which may reduce fluid buildup and swelling.
  4. Wear support stockings (sold at most drugstores and medical supply stores).
  5. When traveling, take breaks often to stand up and move around.
Apr 24, 2021

Should you drink a lot of water if you have edema? ›

Although prescription medications and creams can treat edema, it is essential to drink enough water. When your body is not hydrated enough, it holds onto the fluid it already has to make up for the lack of incoming water, thus contributing to swelling.

Which diuretic is best for edema? ›

Loop diuretics

They get rid of the most fluid of all the available water pills. They're a preferred option for relieving edema, especially for people with heart failure.

Can drinking too much alcohol affect your feet? ›

Alcoholism is also a danger to your feet. Men and women who drink heavily are at risk of alcoholic neuropathy, nerve damage caused by chronic alcohol abuse. Signs of this condition are numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the feet. Alcoholic neuropathy can also affect the hands.

Can alcohol neuropathy be cured? ›

However, some people with alcohol-related neuropathy can improve through abstinence and alcohol abuse treatment. In other cases, though, the neurological deficits associated with alcoholic neuropathy can be permanent, and it can worsen if a person keeps drinking.

What are the first signs of liver damage from alcohol? ›

Generally, symptoms of alcoholic liver disease include abdominal pain and tenderness, dry mouth and increased thirst, fatigue, jaundice (which is yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, and nausea. Your skin may look abnormally dark or light.

What happens on day 4 of not drinking? ›

However, by day 4 without alcohol, most people will have got beyond any initial withdrawal symptoms. All the alcohol will have left your system by now, and your body will begin to bounce back. If you're not as focused on alcohol, you may be eating better, drinking water, moving more, and perhaps sleeping more deeply.

What can I drink instead of alcohol? ›

What to drink instead of alcohol
  • Soda and fresh lime. Proof that simple is still the best.
  • Berries in iced water. This summery drink will keep you refreshed and revitalised.
  • Kombucha. ...
  • Virgin bloody Mary. ...
  • Virgin Mojito. ...
  • Half soda/half cranberry juice and muddled lime. ...
  • Soda and fresh fruit. ...
  • Mocktails.

What does an alcoholic face look like? ›

When you drink, the dehydrating (or 'diuretic') effect of alcohol means your skin loses fluid and nutrients that are vital for healthy-looking skin. This can make your skin look wrinkled, dull and grey, or bloated and puffy. Dehydrated skin may also be more prone to some types of eczema.

Which alcohol is easy on liver? ›

Take a look at this list of the least-damaging alcoholic drinks from Legends at White Oak to help you drink consciously.
  • Red Wine. ...
  • Light Beer. ...
  • Tequila. ...
  • Gin & Rum & Vodka & Whiskey.
Mar 7, 2021

What drinks do not cause inflammation? ›

Many drinks such as coffee, fruit and vegetable juices, green tea, hydrogen water, chlorella water, and milk have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Is there an anti-inflammatory drink? ›

Golden Milk (Turmeric Milk)

The classic anti-inflammatory drink, golden milk is a superstar for a reason. It's a mix of turmeric and dairy-free milk along with a pinch of pepper, cinnamon and maple syrup. It has a wide variety of health benefits all in one cozy cup.

What juice helps with swelling? ›

Pineapple juice contains an enzyme called bromelain, which triggers your body's ability to fight pain and reduce swelling. It's used as a treatment for inflammation and sports injuries and may be effective in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Are bananas anti-inflammatory? ›

Bananas are versatile fruits with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties that can help counteract inflammation and support the body's immune system. People may benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet and avoiding pro-inflammatory foods.

Is Honey good for inflammation? ›

In addition to its use as a natural sweetener, honey is used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent. People commonly use honey orally to treat coughs and topically to treat burns and promote wound healing.

How long is too long for a swollen foot? ›

Report your symptoms to your doctor if there's so much swelling that it leaves an indentation if you press your finger into it, or if it has developed suddenly, lasts for more than a few days, affects just one foot, or is accompanied by pain or discoloration of the skin.

Should you walk if your feet are swollen? ›

Try to keep the swollen area higher than the level of your heart. Take breaks from standing or sitting in one position. Walk around to increase the blood flow in your lower legs. Move your feet and ankles often while you stand, or tighten and relax your leg muscles.

What happens if your feet stay swollen? ›

Sometimes swelling can indicate a problem such as heart, liver, or kidney disease. Ankles that swell in the evening could be a sign of retaining salt and water because of right-sided heart failure. Kidney disease can also cause foot and ankle swelling.

Why wont my swollen feet and legs go down? ›

Fluid buildup (edema): It happens when the tissues or blood vessels in your legs hold more fluid than they should. This can happen if you simply spend a long day on your feet or sit for too long. But it may also be a sign that you're overweight or don't get enough exercise, or of more serious medical conditions.

What happens if you don't treat swollen feet? ›

Scarring: In some cases, edema may lead to scarring that results from the damage it can cause to your skin. A lack of blood flow or the constant pressure of built-up fluid can cause dermatitis and other skin conditions, which can lead to scarring if left untreated.

How long should I wait to see a doctor for swollen feet and ankles? ›

If you have a fever, if the swelling is red and warm to the touch, or if the swelling is on just one side, call your doctor. When swelling lasts for more than a few days and home remedies aren't working, seek your doctor's advice.

How do you get rid of inflammation from alcohol? ›

If you've been drinking alcohol, you should drink water to quickly get rid of bloating in your face and stomach. In fact, drinking water before, during, and after drinking alcohol can help prevent its inflammatory effects on the body. If you're feeling bloated while drinking alcohol, switch over to drinking water.

Why does my foot swell when I drink alcohol? ›

One of the often overlooked causes of swollen feet is related to the consumption of alcohol. When an individual drinks alcohol, especially in excessive quantities, this can cause them to retain water inside their bodies. This extra water retention can lead people to experience swelling in their feet.

Will ascites go away if I stop drinking? ›

If patients can stop drinking, their liver function will improve and their ascites may resolve; they will also have a better prognosis.

Can you get edema from drinking too much? ›

Edema can occur when one drinks too much water and plasma volume expands. The ankles, feet, face, and hands are typically the most noticeable areas to swell, but the entire body can experience swelling as well. A sensation of bloating in the stomach may also be common with edema.

Why does my left leg swell after drinking alcohol? ›

Alcohol. Alcohol can cause the body to retain excess water, causing the feet to swell. If the swelling continues for more than 2 days, a person should make an appointment with their doctor. Recurrent swelling of the feet after drinking alcohol may be a sign of an underlying issue with the heart, liver, or kidneys.

What are the first signs of ascites? ›

What are the symptoms of ascites?
  • Swelling in the abdomen.
  • Weight gain.
  • Sense of fullness.
  • Bloating.
  • Sense of heaviness.
  • Nausea or indigestion.
  • Vomiting.
  • Swelling in the lower legs.

Can you get rid of ascites yourself? ›

Certain things that help prevent cirrhosis of the liver and cancer can also prevent ascites. This includes not drinking alcohol, staying at a healthy weight, exercising, not smoking, and limiting salt intake. Ascites can't be cured. But lifestyle changes and treatments may decrease complications.

What stage of liver disease is ascites? ›

Ascites is the main complication of cirrhosis. It is a landmark of the progression into the decompensated phase of cirrhosis and is associated with a poor prognosis and quality of life; mortality is estimated to be 50% in 2 years.

Should you drink lots of water if your feet are swollen? ›

Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day

Though it might seem counterintuitive, getting enough fluids actually helps reduce swelling.

How much water should you drink with edema? ›

Drink plenty of water (1.5 to 2 liters a day). If you travel in a car, train, or flight for long durations, wear compression stockings to improve blood circulation and reduce swelling.

What happens to your legs if you drink too much alcohol? ›

People who drink too much may start to feel pain and tingling in their limbs. This is known as alcoholic neuropathy. In people with alcoholic neuropathy, the peripheral nerves have been damaged by too much alcohol use. The peripheral nerves transmit signals between the body, the spinal cord, and the brain.

What happens when you drink alcohol everyday? ›

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.

What body shape is a female alcoholic? ›

Excessive drinking could cause an individual to develop more of an "apple" body shape, where a higher level of body fat is distributed in the abdominal region.

Can you reverse the effects of alcohol on your face? ›

Hydration is the number one way to reverse alcohol skin damage and keep your skin nice and glowy.


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