Swollen ankles are caused by a number of factors, including standing up for too long, pregnancy, injury to the area or simply being overweight. Generally, swelling is due to a build-up of fluid somewhere near the ankles. Luckily, they can be treated in several different ways, including exercise and elevating the feet. But getting rid of the condition requires more long-term measures to improve the body's overall health.
Identify the cause of your swollen ankles before proceeding to treat the symptoms. Consult with a health care professional to discuss whether or not the swelling is caused by a medical condition, including arthritis, diseases of the heart and kidney, obesity, or malnutrition.
If you do have one of these conditions, set up a plan to keep it under control, so as to banish the ankle swelling once and for all. Your physician should be able to provide you with health and nutrition information, as well as lifestyle instructions for staying in good health.
Check that any medications you have been prescribed are not also causing your ankles to swell. Blood pressure medications, hormones such as birth control pills, and some antidepressants can lead to swelling or make it worse. You may have to avoid these medications entirely to get rid of the swelling, or ask your doctor for an alternative that is less likely to cause it.
Stick to a low-salt diet, as sodium can lead to fluid retention in the ankles and elsewhere on your body.
Make exercising an integral part of your lifestyle, especially if pregnancy is the reason behind your ankle swelling. This does not mean that you have to spend hours in the gym. Instead, start by walking on a regular basis to places that you'd normally drive, such as the post office, bank or a friend's house.
To prevent swollen ankles altogether, try to avoid sitting or standing for extended periods of time. If you're stuck sitting for a prolonged period of time -- such as on an aeroplane or road trip -- get up and walk around every hour or so to keep the blood circulating. Avoid wearing tight trousers or garters around your thighs, as these are restrictive items and could lead to swelling.