Legs, ankles, and feet swell when excess fluid is pulled down by gravity and builds up in the lower body. This is called edema and it’s common in older adults and usually happens on both sides of the body. It can be caused by a variety of health conditions including heart failure, kidney disease, gout, and arthritis.
To reduce the swelling from a foot or ankle injury, rest to avoid walking on the injured ankle or foot, use ice packs, wrap the foot or ankle with compression bandage, and elevate the foot on a stool or pillow. If swelling and pain is severe or doesn’t improve with home treatment, see your doctor.
But again, most leg swelling in aging adults is chronic venous insufficiency. The ideal management of this chronic condition includes “lifestyle” measures such as elevating the legs regularly, using compression stockings, reducing salt intake, and doing exercises which improve fluid movement in the legs.
7 Helpful Ways to Reduce Swollen Feet and Ankles
Stay Hydrated – dehydration causes the constriction of blood vessels leading to the forcing of fluids into the extracellular spaces between cells leading to retention particularly in the lower limbs.
If left untreated, edema can lead to increasingly painful swelling, stiffness, difficulty walking, stretched or itchy skin, skin ulcers, scarring, and decreased blood circulation.
People with a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to have swollen ankles or feet, so “the best way out is through” in the long term for those who are just beginning to get active. Dehydration can make swelling during activity worse. For those who are obese, swelling is more frequent with less physical activity.
Hold the swollen part of your body above the level of your heart several times a day. In some cases, elevating the affected body part while you sleep may be helpful. Massage. Stroking the affected area toward your heart using firm, but not painful, pressure may help move the excess fluid out of that area.
Tips to reduce ankle and foot swelling Simple lifestyle changes — such as exercise and weight loss — also can help reduce or prevent swelling while also improving your overall health, says Dr. Botek. She suggested activities such as walking and swimming.
Potassium deficiency leads to high blood pressure and water retention. If one is not on any dietary restrictions, then consume potassium-rich foods to reduce swelling. Sweet potatoes, bananas, salmon, chicken, white beans are rich in potassium and should be eaten in case of foot swelling.
Here are 10 to try.
Medications that may cause the feet to swell include:
Drink More Water Interestingly, being well-hydrated can actually reduce water retention ( 25 ). Your body is always trying to achieve a healthy balance, so if you’re constantly dehydrated your body tends to retain more water in an attempt to prevent water levels from becoming too low.
Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar. Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, cold-water fish, tofu (soy, if no allergy), or beans for protein. Use healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil.