Swollen Ankles & Feet

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Shoe shopping loses its appeal if you have swollen ankles and feet. Painless swelling, also called edema, is common and happens when fluid builds up in your ankles and feet. You have swelling in your lower extremities more often simply because of gravity. If you have swelling, determine the cause and learn how to treat it.


Situations

You are more likely to have swollen ankles and feet if you fall under certain situations. If you must stand all day long as part of your job, if you are on a long airline flight or car trip, if you are overweight, older, or have suffered an injury or trauma to your ankle or foot, you are more likely to experience swelling. Some women swell during their period, and some women’s ankles and feet swell when they are pregnant.

About Pregnancy Swelling

Some swelling is normal when you are pregnant because you retain more water. During the later part of your pregnancy, your uterus can put pressure on the veins that carry blood from your lower limbs to your heart, slowing the flow of blood, which causes fluid from your veins to go into the tissues of your ankles and feet. The most likely times for this to happen to you are when you are in your third trimester, especially at the end of the day and in the summer. You can get some relief by lying on your left side. If the swelling is more than just slight, or if it comes on suddenly, call your doctor immediately, because this could be a serious condition called preeclampsia.

Conditions

Sometimes, when your ankles and feet swell, it’s because of a more serious condition, such as a blood clot, leg infection, varicose veins, burns, an insect sting or bite, malnutrition, after surgery to your leg or foot or if you have a blockage of lymph nodes in your legs. Medications you take could also cause swelling. Estrogen that you get in birth control pills or from hormone replacement therapy could cause swelling, as can blood pressure medications, steroids and antidepressants.

Call a Doctor

Call 911 if along with your swollen ankles and feet you have shortness of breath or chest pains. Call your doctor if you have decreased urine, have liver disease, your swelling is also hot and/or red or if you have a fever.

Home Treatment

If you have swollen ankles and feet, elevate your feet whenever possible. When you sit, don’t cross your legs. Stretch your legs by putting you leg out in front of you. Flex your foot, heel first, and then point your toe. Wiggle your toes, and rotate your ankle. Try to walk around to get more circulation going. Put the high heels away until the swelling goes down; wear comfortable shoes instead. Wearing support stockings can help, but make sure you don’t wear any stockings or socks that are tight around your knees or ankles. Drink more water because you actually retain less water if you keep drinking. Avoid salty foods and junk food.

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