Swollen ankles are often called edema, which is caused when there is fluid retained in the body, especially around the ankles, feet and legs. Swelling around the ankles can occur for many common reasons, including a diet high in sodium and carbohydrates, trauma to the ankle area, water retention and pregnancy.
Swollen ankles are often most noticeable toward the end of the day since the body has been retaining water; however, those who suffer from swollen ankles throughout time will begin to notice the ankles swelling at the start of the day and getting more uncomfortable as the day progresses. Other symptoms of swollen ankles include weight gain, high blood pressure, increased urination, other swollen extremities and even headaches.
One of the most common swollen-ankle treatments is elevation. Raising the ankles higher than the heart reduces swelling but also relieves pressure on the ankle and knee joints as well as the lower back. Spend 30 minutes elevating the ankles to reduce swelling or until swelling has subsided. If you are lying on a bed, use two pillows to rest the ankles on, which will also keep them elevated.
If you have frequent swelling of the ankles, visit a pharmacy or orthopedic's office to purchase support socks or hose. Support socks come in various colors, lengths and pressure depending on your needs. You may speak with a podiatrist to get custom-made socks or hose.
If you are pregnant or have intermittent swelling, treatments such as increasing muscle activity to improve circulation and blood flow may help reduce swelling. Limit sodium intake to less than 2,400 milligrams per day and drink at least 64 ounces of water to reduce retention in the legs and ankles.
If swelling is uncomfortable, take Tylenol, Aleve, Motrin or aspirin for pain relief. For chronic swollen ankles, ask your doctor about prescription water diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide. Common brand names of this medication are Ezide and Hydrodiuril.