Causes of swollen ankles

Written by payton pritchard
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Causes of swollen ankles

Non-Serious Causes

Swollen ankles are a sign of water retention. Usually the surrounding tissue is holding fluid, causing the ankles to swell. Swelling in any part of the body can be alarming. It's often a symptom of a more serious medical condition related mostly to heart disease, heart failure or heart attack. But medical conditions aren't the only causes of swollen ankles .

Numerous culprits contribute to swollen ankles such as a serious medical condition, medications and injuries. Sometimes the swelling may be triggered because you've been standing or sitting for long periods of time. If you've been standing, find a place to prop up your legs or walk around a bit to get the blood flowing. If you've been sitting too long, walk around, drink some water and stretch.

Medical Conditions

Serious medical conditions such as kidney failure, heart disease, liver disease or blocked blood vessels can lead to water retention and swelling. These are serious conditions that require immediate medical attention. Other medical conditions that cause swelling include a blood clot, an infection in the leg, varicose veins, malnutrition, foot or leg surgery, a high sodium diet, abuse of laxatives, diuretics, or drugs, overweight or obesity, allergic reactions, injuries, sodium retention and birth control pills.

Medication Causes

Medications that can cause swollen ankles include hormones such as oestrogen, blood pressure medications, antidepressants and steroids. If the swelling doesn't shrink a few days after starting the medication, see your doctor.


Swelling can be minor or severe. The initial symptom of swelling is referred to as "pitting." It's an indentation that's left on the swollen area when pressure is applied. If the swelling doesn't decrease, it can create skin ulcerations, high blood pressure, headaches, palpitations, puffy eyes and swollen hands or wrists.


Elevating the legs is a quick way to reduce swelling. Lie down on your back and elevate your legs above your heart. You can also use this method when you're sleeping. Throughout the day try keeping your legs elevated on a chair or in a recliner. Use support socks or stockings. Wear loose clothing. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Lower your sodium intake, drink plenty of water and walk to help reduce swelling. Avoid using contraceptive pills and hormone replacements. Don't overuse laxatives or diuretics.


Preventing swollen ankles may require a change in diet. Add vitamin C and citrus bioflavonoids to your daily diet. Herbs 2000 recommends taking between 3,000mg to 6,000mg of citrus bioflavonoids daily. You can also take vitamin C supplements or eat more vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, cantaloupe, kiwi, broccoli and cabbage. Maintain a low-salt diet to prevent fluid retention. Take a daily walk. Exercise keeps the blood flowing and the body functioning properly.

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