My Left Foot And Ankle Is Swollen For No Apparent Reason, Why?


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Liam Sheasby answered
There are a number of reasons why a left foot and ankle could become swollen. The most probable cause is a condition called Beriberi. This should not be taken as a diagnosis however, and if you are worried you should see your doctor for a professional diagnosis.

Beriberi affects the nervous system and is caused by a lack of vitamin B1, a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is essential for breaking down glucose in the system and other symptoms include lethargy, and complications affecting the heart, and the intestines.

The term 'beriberi' is thought to originate from the Sinhalese phrase that means, "I cannot, I cannot". In the modern developed world beriberi occurs most in heavy alcohol users, as the body finds it difficult to absorb and store essential vitamins.

There are three types of beriberi. Wet beriberi mainly affects the cardiovascular system, whilst infantile beriberi affects children. Dry beriberi affects the nervous system, including loss of muscle function, difficulty walking and tingling sensations in the hands and feet.

Thiamine is naturally found in cereals, wholegrain bread, fresh meat, green vegetables, fruit and milk. It is most common in countries where famine is a problem, as most of these items are not being sourced regularly.

There is an extremely rare condition called genetic beriberi, which can be passed through families. The symptoms do not normally show until adulthood. Breastfeeding a baby when the mother is lacking in vitamin B1 can also affect the infant concerned.

The main treatment available for beriberi is thiamine supplements. This can be provided by injection or oral form. It is not uncommon for those being treated in this way to see signs of recovery within a few hours of treatment starting. Testing will take place if a person is suspected of suffering from beriberi. Blood tests will check for the amount of thiamine in the blood, whilst a urine test will see if the thiamine is passing through the urine.

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