A Doctor Explains Why Your Rings May Suddenly Feel Like They Don’t Fit

Crop woman hands with rings on the street

It happened out of nowhere. One minute I was rinsing vegetables in cold water, and the next, I was fishing for my rings out of the garbage disposal. Uh, gross! Another time, when I was eight months pregnant in the summertime, my rings almost got stuck on my finger, and I had to stop wearing them until after the baby was born. So, what causes rings to feel too loose or tight — and is there any way to prevent this annoying phenomenon? POPSUGAR spoke with Cynthia Shughrue, DO, an internist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and Texas Health Physicians Group, to find out.

Why Do My Rings Suddenly Not Fit?

Just like your jeans can feel too tight after a big meal, your fingers can also swell (or seemingly shrink) depending on a variety of factors. One of the big ones is fluid retention from increased salt intake, “which is normal and usually temporary and self-limited,” Dr. Shughrue told POPSUGAR. Pregnant people are also more likely to experience fluid retention, and anyone can have swelling when they’re hot. “Increased temperature can cause temporary swelling to allow heat to leave the surface [of the skin] and is totally normal and temporary,” Dr. Shughrue explained. Of course, the opposite can also happen, where your fingers will temporarily shrink (or constrict) during really cold weather.

This is all typically short-lived, though you may need to make some adjustments in the meantime. If your rings suddenly feel too big, take a break from wearing them. You don’t want them to fall off and get lost while you’re running errands (or doing the dishes!). If it’s really cold outside, you can also wear gloves to ensure your rings don’t slip off your fingers. On the other hand, if your rings get stuck because your fingers are swelling, don’t panic. Try to run your hands under cold water or put them in a bowl of ice. The cold should help the swelling go down, so you can slip the rings off. After that, wait to wear them outside until the weather is cooler, or take them off before a big meal just in case.

Can Swollen Fingers Be a Sign of Something More Serious?

If you don’t suspect fluid retention or environmental changes to be the reason your rings aren’t fitting, or this usually temporary problem doesn’t seem to be going away, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. “Some conditions that require medical attention include possible injuries, arthritis, gout, kidney disease, or a reaction to some type of medication,” Dr. Shughrue said. “Permanent changes to the fingers could be caused from arthritis, which causes actual damage to the joints of the hand, and sometimes swelling of the tissues around the joints, too. Any swelling of the fingers that doesn’t correct itself within a short period of time should be evaluated by a medical practitioner.”

When your rings suddenly don’t fit, it can be frustrating or even scary, but it’s most likely not a cause for concern. Just wait a couple days for the issue to correct itself, and you should be good to go. Or, make an appointment with your general practitioner to rule out any medical conditions. And just to be on the safe side, maybe take your rings off anytime you’re near a garbage disposal.

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