Swollen ankles, legs, and feet cause discomfort and even pain for many people. If you are one of these people who suffer from puffiness around your ankles, you probably wonder what you can do to reduce the ankle swelling and ease discomfort.
Swelling in the ankles, legs, and feet is caused by an accumulation of fluid around the base of your legs. This swelling (called edema) can be caused by something as simple as being on your feet or sitting down for too long. You may also feel that the area around the base of your legs swells and becomes puffy in hot weather.
However, sometimes fluid can build up and cause swelling around the ankles, legs, and feet due to an underlying serious health condition like problems with your kidneys, heart, or blood circulation. Some medications can also cause a buildup of fluid in your body resulting in swollen ankles and feet. Also, if one leg looks swollen, while the other one appears normal, see a doctor, as this unevenness could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis.
It is important to tell the difference between swollen ankles caused by “everyday” activities, and edema that requires treatment by a doctor. Generally, harmless ankle and leg swelling occurs on both legs and doesn’t have other ominous symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, or bluish skin (cyanosis).
In this article, we will look at some of the best home remedies for swollen ankles. Because treatment depends on the underlying cause of leg edema, we will also look at the reasons for fluid retention that causes leg swelling. This will help you know if you should see a doctor for swollen ankles or swollen feet and legs.
What Causes Ankles, Legs, and Feet to Swell
Swollen ankles and swollen feet occur because of fluid retention around the base of your leg. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, certain conditions can cause fluid to leak from capillaries which then builds up in the surrounding tissues.1
Here are some common reasons for ankle, leg, and feet swelling.
Standing or sitting for too long
One of the most common reasons for swelling around the ankles is standing or sitting for too long. According to doctors from the Cleveland Clinic, edema around the feet and ankles happens because gravity pulls fluid down to your feet. This can result in puffiness around your ankles that have the appearance of shiny skin. You may also notice that the skin retains a dimple when pressed.2
Too much salt in your diet
Having too much salt in your diet can cause edema because it makes it harder for your body to get rid of excess fluid. This fluid usually builds up around your ankles and feet causing swelling and puffiness.
According to Dr. John Chuna on MedicineNet, the kidneys are responsible for removing salt from your body. If your kidneys aren’t working properly, then more salt will be retained in the body and this will cause edema.3
Suffering from swollen ankles, feet, and legs is something that happens to most women who are pregnant. According to the American Pregnancy Association, swelling around the ankles, feet, and hands is normal during pregnancy. Other factors like hot weather, standing for long periods of time, or not being physically active can all increase swelling around your feet when you’re pregnant.4