Why Do Ankles Swell in Hot Weather? Prevention and Treatment
If you are like me, you can't wait to liberate your feet from boots and socks as soon as the sun starts to warm things up a little. Out come the strappy heels or flip flops, the feet get buffed and moisturised to perfection, and the nails are painted.
All seems ready to roll, but then you come to slipping on those sandals and realise—your ankles are swollen like tree trunks!
Why? You've got heat-related edema! Don't worry. That just means your ankles are swollen. One of the main causes of heat-related edema is taking in too much salt, or rather the sodium contained in salt, and not drinking enough water.
By not drinking enough water, the salt/sodium concentration in your blood goes up, which forces your body into retaining what little water you do drink. Retaining water means swollen ankles.
Heat also causes blood vessels to expand, and allows fluids to leak into surrounding tissues. Excessive walking, sitting, and standing in one spot for a prolonged period of time without moving allows gravity to pull fluids down to the ankles and feet, where they pool and cause swelling and discomfort.
When to Consult a Doctor
Swollen ankles can also be an indication of more sinister problems within the body:
- Some medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, can cause edema.
- Heart, kidney, or liver failure.
If you are concerned, visit your doctor to get the swelling checked out and put your mind at ease.
Terms for Swelling
Edema: Swelling from excessive fluid in tissue.
Peripheral Edema: Swelling in the hands and feet.
Heat Edema: Swelling caused by overheating.
Don't Pass the Salt—My Ankles Can't Take It!
Our bodies do need a certain amount of salt, or sodium, however many foods contain sufficient amounts without any additional table salt.
High sodium diets not only contribute to making your ankles swell, they can also cause high blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Some food and drinks contain dangerous levels of sodium. These include salted peanuts, pretzels, crisps or potato chips, and processed foods. High sodium levels are more hidden in some breakfast cereals. Carbonated drinks and some sparkling mineral waters contain huge amounts of sodium.
Note: If you live in a hard-water area and soften your tap water with sodium chloride, you are significantly increasing your sodium intake. Change to a reverse osmosis system or switch to using potassium chloride to soften your water. You can set your treatment system to bypass one tap in your house and use that tap for cooking and drinking water.
Tips to Avoid Swollen Ankles
- Cut down your salt intake and drink lots more plain old tap water. Switching to low- or no-sodium salt will make a difference. It takes a bit of getting used to, if you are used to adding lots of normal salt to cooking, but it can be achieved.
- Keep moving around, but avoid really long walks in the heat
- Massage your feet ankles and legs throughout the day to stimulate lymphatic drainage.
- Try to keep as cool as you can.
- If you have to wear stockings or tights for work, try compression or support hose.
Ankles Still Swelling in the Heat?
- Keep drinking water and cut out all added salt. Check food labels and cut out everything with a high sodium content.
- Have a bit of a walk around, if possible. If not, do some foot exercises such as flexing and bending your feet and ankles. Practice circling motions. Get the circulation going and force the lymphatic system into action.
- Lie down with your legs elevated above the level of your heart.
- Place a cold wet flannel or towel across your ankles while laying down to ease any throbbing.
- Massage your feet and ankles with a cooling foot cream or lotion.
- Buy yourself a portable foot exerciser if you are forced to sit down for long periods of time.
- If your job forces you to stand or sit for long periods of time, try to take a regular "walking break." Changing to a project that involves moving around could prove to be helpful.
Better Safe Than Sorry
If you suffer from swollen ankles in the heat, check your food labels for hidden sodium. If you are at all worried about the swelling, make an appointment to go and see your doctor. Please do note that I am neither a doctor nor a medic. My articles are soley for advice and you should seek immediate medical attention if you are in anyway worried about your health.
Easy Tricks to Relieve Swollen Ankles
Although I have no medical training, I like to write about problems and solutions to health issues I am familiar with, and I do research my topics thoroughly before writing about them. This should in no way influence your judgement, and if you are worried about anything to do with your health and well-being, my articles are not meant to be a substitute for visiting your GP or health professional.
- WebMD. Swelling Topic Overview. © 2005 - 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
- http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Swelling-in-Hot-Weather. Shared under Creative commons license.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.