Salt, alcohol, heat: what causes swelling in fingers, like Charles III’s? – 09/11/2022

The swollen hands of Charles III, proclaimed King of England in a ceremony yesterday (10), have drawn attention on social media – see photos below. It’s not the first time that the monarch’s health arouses curiosity: before, the focus was on reddened skin, due to rosacea.

Comments about swollen hands are not recent. In May of this year, internet searches for the then Prince of Wales’s fingers had already become popular.

Since 1982, however, there are records of the condition, even commented on by the king himself. in the biography Prince Charles, The Man Who Will Be King (2018), author Howard Hodgson quotes an excerpt from a letter that the monarch would have sent to a friend after the birth of Prince William. “I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am. He has ‘sausage fingers’ like mine,” the book reports.

So far, the royal family has not indicated any health reason for Charles III’s swelling. However, fluid retention is a common condition and is related to simple habits, but it can also be an alert for more serious diseases.

It happens when there is an accumulation of excess water in the body’s tissues, causing swelling in specific areas or even the whole body. The problem occurs when one or more factors affect the mechanisms that maintain the balance of water inside and outside cells, causing it to accumulate in the extracellular space.

Here are nine factors that can swell your fingers:

excess salt

Salt is the great villain of fluid retention because it is rich in sodium, a substance that attracts and holds water in the body. To give you an idea, for every nine grams ingested, one liter of water is retained in the body, and swelling (or edema) becomes visible when the excess exceeds three liters.

This is one of the reasons why the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends consuming only five grams of salt per day.

High temperatures

Elevated temperatures cause vasodilation, which changes the capillary pressure (of the small vessels) and allows the release of liquids to the tissues, resulting in swollen legs and hands, especially at the end of the day.

Prince Charles' signet ring with his wedding band - Getty Images - Getty Images

Prince Charles signet ring along with his wedding band

Image: Getty Images


Some medications can have fluid retention as a side effect. This is the case with some antihypertensives, anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids.

In these cases, if the patient is suffering a lot from the discomfort, he should talk to the doctor to assess whether it is necessary to replace the drug or associate another substance to reduce the side effect.


The consumption of alcoholic beverages increases the levels of glucose and, consequently, insulin – a hormone that captures blood sugar and causes greater retention of liquids in the body.

Apart from that alcoholic beverages encourage you to eat snacks that are often loaded with salt such as sausages, cheeses and snacks.

Sedentary lifestyle

Physical exercises activate blood circulation and contribute to lowering blood glucose and insulin levels, which also generate fluid retention. Hence the importance of practicing physical activity every day.

lack of vitamin

Despite a rare situation in large centers, swelling can also be related to vitamin B1 or thiamine deficiency, since the lack of this nutrient generates a kind of heart failure.

The doctor can supplement vitamin B1 or even advise the patient to consume foods that are sources of the nutrient such as legumes, whole grains, Brazil nuts, peanuts, pork and sunflower seeds.


Patients with the condition may experience swelling when already suffering from chronic kidney disease. To give you an idea, diabetes is the second cause of this problem in Brazil, since it attacks the kidneys when not controlled.

King Charles III's hands appear swollen and red - Reproduction/Instagram Clarence House - Reproduction/Instagram Clarence House

King Charles III’s hands appear swollen and red

Image: Reproduction/Instagram Clarence House

The body starts to lose protein through the urine, decreasing the oncotic pressure (pressure generated by proteins) in the blood vessels, which leads to fluid leakage.


The function of your immune system is to protect your body from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. But it can happen that it acts in the wrong way, which makes it attack the healthy cells of your body. This is what happens in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

In this case, the hyperactivity of this system causes inflammation that affects mainly the joints, but can affect other areas of the body.

more diseases

While lifestyle-related fluid retention (excessive salt consumption, sedentary lifestyle, obesity) responds well when we change our habits, when the problem is related to disease, the patient does not notice improvement even with lifestyle changes or adaptations. . In these cases, the doctor should investigate the existence of more serious conditions such as:

  • Kidney diseases such as nephrotic syndrome, acute glomerulonephritis, chronic renal failure;
  • Severe liver disease, such as cirrhosis of the liver;
  • Heart disorder such as heart failure;
  • Dysfunction in the lymphatic vessels, such as lymphedema;
  • Dysfunction in the thyroid gland, such as hypothyroidism.

*With information from reports published on 04/21/20 and 03/23/22.

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About Jenni Smith

She's our PC girl, so anything is up to her. She is also responsible for the videos of Play Crazy Game, as well as giving a leg in the news.

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