7 Reasons Why You Have Swollen Feet and Ankles

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Swollen feet and ankles are common and usually not a cause of concern, particularly if you have been standing or walking a lot. But feet and ankles that stay swollen or are accompanied by other symptoms could signal a serious health problem.

Whether the swelling is slight or your feet feel like balloons, something’s off—and anything from changes in your weight to hormone imbalances to a serious condition like heart disease could be to blame. Here are some reasons why you have swollen feet and ankles.

1. Foot or Ankle Injury

An injury to the foot or ankle can lead to swelling. The most common is a sprained ankle, which occurs when an injury or misstep causes the ligaments, that hold the ankle in place to be stretched, beyond their normal range. 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
  • Elevate the foot on a stool or pillow.

If swelling and pain is severe or doesn’t improve with home treatment, see your doctor.

2. Infection

Sometime, swelling in the feet and ankles can be a sign of infection. People with diabetic neuropathy or other nerve problems of the feet are at greater risk for foot infections. If you have diabetes, it is important to inspect feet daily for blisters and sores, because nerve damage can blunt the pain sensation and foot problems can progress quickly. If you notice a swollen foot or wound that appears to be infected, contact your doctor right away.

3. Wearing Tight Shoes

Wearing tight shoes cause swelling in the feet and ankles. Tight shoes restrict the blood flow which results to a buildup of fluids. Avoid tight shoes or shoes that don’t conform to the shape of your leg.

4. High Sodium Intake

High sodium intake increases water retention. And it can cause swelling in the entire body, not just the legs. Do not consume more than 2300mg of sodium a day. You may also want to reduce intake of processed foods since most of them are loaded with sodium.

5. Heart, Liver, or Kidney Disease

Sometimes swollen feet and ankles can indicate a problem such as heart, liver, or kidney disease. Ankles that swell in the evening could be a sign of retaining salt and water because of right-sided heart failure. Kidney disease can also cause foot and ankle swelling. When kidneys are not functioning properly, fluid can build up in the body. Liver disease can affect the liver’s production of a protein called albumin, which keeps the blood from leaking out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. Inadequate albumin production can lead to fluid leakage. Gravity causes fluid to accumulate more in the feet and ankles, but fluid can also accumulate in the abdomen and chest.

6. Too Much Weight

Add swollen feet and ankles to the list of health-related side effects of being overweight or obese. One of the most common reasons people have problems with swollen feet and ankles is that they are obese. Their bellies have all this fat, and the fat compresses the circulation in the legs, hence there’s back pressure downstream from that and their legs swell.

7. You Stand or Sit For Hours

Counter people, doctors, nurses, and others who work on their feet often end the day feeling like their shoes are too tight. When you don’t move much while standing, the muscles in your legs, ankles and your feet don’t have a chance to contract, causing blood flow to and from your feet to slow down.

The same thing happens to people who sit for long stretches. Reduced blood flow triggers swelling, making shoes feel tight and uncomfortable. And if you’re sitting cross-legged, pinched blood vessels caused by the position you’re in can aggravate the swelling.

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