How to Reduce Water Retention in the Ankles

Painless, swollen ankles and feet are a common problem for men and women. Water retention in the ankles and feet can result from prolonged standing or sitting, menstrual periods, pregnancy, being of advanced age or being overweight. This condition is often uncomfortable, although not usually painful. To reduce swelling, there are certain measures that can be taken.

Exercise your legs periodically throughout the day. This is especially important if you have a job in which you have to stand in one place or sit for extended periods of time. Try to walk around for a few minutes every couple of hours at the very least. Regular exercise is also advised at a minimum of 30 minutes per day.

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When you lay down to rest or sleep, elevate your legs above your heart. Water retention and swelling in the ankles, feet and legs result from decreased circulation. Elevating your legs above your heart whenever possible helps to return some of the excess fluid back into your heart and kidneys and allows it to drain out of your swollen low-extremity tissues.

Wear support hose. Support stockings or hose can be purchased in most pharmacies or discount stores. These special socks put pressure on your ankles, feet and calves so that the extra fluid is more easily returned to your kidneys and can be excreted in the urine.

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Reduce dietary sodium. Try to stick to no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium each day. Count the amount of sodium you're consuming by referring to the nutrition labels on the foods eaten throughout the day. Excess salt can cause your body to retain water, so reducing the amount you take in usually helps with alleviating swelling in feet, ankles and legs.

Drink plenty of water. Distilled water works best. This might sound confusing, but drinking lots of water can actually help to reduce water retention. If your body isn't getting enough water, it will hold onto the water it does have very readily. Drinking several glasses of distilled water each day can help your body get rid of excess fluid.


If you are overweight, losing weight can also help you to decrease or eliminate water retention and swelling in the ankles, feet and legs.


If one of your legs or feet suddenly becomes swollen, contact your doctor. Swelling in one leg can be indicative of a blood clot, which can be very dangerous.