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Why Do Ankles Swell in Hot Weather? Prevention and Treatment

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I like to research and write about health issues and cures that are familiar to me.

Swollen ankles in heat

Swollen ankles in heat

Why Do My Feet and Ankles Swell in the Summer

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, could be the cause
  • Heart, kidney, or liver failure

If you are concerned, visit your doctor to get the swelling checked out and put your mind at ease.

Don't Pass the Salt—My Ankles Can't Take It!

Don't Pass the Salt—My Ankles Can't Take It!

Sodium and Swelling

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, but 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.

Massaging your ankles can help reduce swelling.

Massaging your ankles can help reduce swelling.

Tips to Avoid Swollen Ankles

  1. Cut down your salt intake and drink lots more 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.
  2. Keep moving around, but avoid really long walks in the heat.
  3. Massage your feet ankles and legs throughout the day to stimulate lymphatic drainage.
  4. Try to keep as cool as you can.
  5. If you have to wear stockings or tights for work, try compression or support hose.

Other Things to Try

  1. Keep drinking water and cut out all added salt. Check food labels and cut out everything with a high sodium content.
  2. 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.
  3. Lie down with your legs elevated above the level of your heart.
  4. Place a cold wet flannel or towel across your ankles while laying down to ease any throbbing.
  5. Massage your feet and ankles with a cooling foot cream or lotion.
  6. Buy yourself a portable foot exerciser if you are forced to sit down for long periods of time.
  7. 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.


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.


bac2basics on July 09, 2017:

Hi Deanna.

Adding references is a must here on Hubpages and its satellite sites. I added mine after the hub had been published for many years or it would have been taken off the Healdove site. It was good to see all the referenced articles supported my initial research.

Thank you so much for taking time to leave me a comment :-)

Deanna Goldberg on July 08, 2017:

I love it that you add references... so refreshing in these days of a lot of false information. Thanks for the tips.

Bac2basics on May 12, 2017:

Hi Sandra.

Sorry but I can't answer that. Maybe there will be reccomend usage instructions on the box.

Sandra Holden on May 12, 2017:

My feet swell for a few days in hot weather should I wear compression socks overnight to help this

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on January 03, 2015:

I´ll check my inbox Graham. I shall miss the winter sunshine for sure, but it really is time to be nearer family now.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on January 03, 2015:

Hi Annie. I have received your email. I have tried to reply but I'm not to great at emailing. Darwen is 'cooler' than Spain but you will be nearer to 'all' as you say. Good luck with it.

Best wishes.


Anne (author) from United Kingdom on January 03, 2015:

Hi Graham, how lovely to hear from you.

I´m in the process of selling up ( at long last) and should be back in the UK sometime in February I think. I´m going to nip over to your profile and send an email so I can tell you more what´s happening.

Happy new year to you and yours too.

All the very best, Annie.

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on January 02, 2015:

Hi Anne/ie. Another first class hub from you. I thought I would visit to wish you and your a Happy New Year. How are you and how is Spain? Best Wishes.


Anne (author) from United Kingdom on March 22, 2014:

Hi leadturtleone. Goodness me that must have been a nightmare and could have had very serious consequences had you not got to the bottom of the problem. many thanks for taking the time to read this hub and also your reply. I hope you have now solved the problem of too much sodium in your water.

leadturtleone on March 21, 2014:

Five years ago I had concerns of both my ankles swelling on me, to the point of having to take off work for a few days. It was difficult to walk, and to lay down. Very painful and I paid out of pocket for salve and ointment to get relief of the pain . I learned the water I was drinking out of tap at the sink at my old address had a high content of sodium!

maggs224 from Sunny Spain on June 24, 2013:

An interesting hub, you are right we do have things in common, the hot weather certainly increases the swelling in my ankles, and my left one like yours, seems to swell more than the right .

I have just about cut salt out of my diet, which was hard for me because I had salt on everything and plenty of it, which I am sure was the cause of my high blood pressure diagnosed a couple of years ago.

I now make sure that I drink a lot of water especially this time of year, as you can quickly dehydrate in the summer heat here in Spain.

I will be voting up and hitting the relevant buttons on my way out :D

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on September 16, 2012:

Hi Julie.

You are very welcome. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment, but please remember if you are at all worried by anything health wise, make an appointment to see your doctor, that´s what they are there for. :)

Julie on September 16, 2012:

It was good to read your Hub. My ankles and feet have started swelling only when in in a hot country, never in England!!

Its been reassuring to know it doesn't just happen to me!

Thank you for the information.

Kind regards, Julie

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on August 27, 2012:

Hi Patrick. My left ankle seems to swell more too. Maybe we should both go and get checked out at the doctors ! Thankyou for reading . :)

patrick on August 26, 2012:

thanks you for your tips an my ankle i am a driver an onley my left foot swolen up but i am htankful for all i learn on your

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on August 12, 2012:

Hi Ginger nut. Hope you are feeling more comfortable now. Maybe a visit to the doctor would be advisable for you if the pain is really bad as there are more causes of swollen ankles than just not drinking enough water etc. Let me know how you get on please, and I hope everything goes OK.

ginger nut on August 12, 2012:

i am in a lot of pain at the moment I will take your advice and drink more water and hope it works Thanks

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on May 31, 2012:

Hola Roberto y gracias para me bessito !! Me problema ahora no es me tobillos, es me culo !! Despues leer su pagina me fue a riegar me jardine, y una mosca picar me..una pequeno Bar Steward yo creo!! Thanks for reading and following. una bessito para ti tambien x

diogenes from UK and Mexico on May 30, 2012:

Excellent, well and clearly written article. It's curious how man can know something, yet constantly need reminding not to do something (like add salt to food).

And to drink more water. I have had this problem recently and it is disheartening to see signs of what is ageing in many people. It's more agua para me, menus sal, y tal!

Gracias para este hub y para su interes en mi propio trabajo.

Roberto x

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on May 26, 2012:

Hi Anne810. Yes that´s exactly what happens to me lol, and why I wrote this hub. We really must get up and walk round more often. Thanks for reading an leaving a comment.

Ann810 from Sunny Cali on May 26, 2012:

Hi, great Hub, I have to do stretch exercises or leg exercises to get the circulation going again in my legs and ankles. Because sitting at the computer for long hours sometimes get my ankles puffy. Voted up.

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on May 19, 2012:

Hi Lady G. Yes you do need to keep an eye on your legs. I hope you don´t have any more DVT´s, bad news. Thankyou for reading and following. I´m following you too, we do have a lot in common.Take care. Thanks again.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on May 19, 2012:

Yes, I have them and my legs swell to in the summer when it gets too hot. I take special care when my ankles swell as I have had 3 DVT's (Deep Vein Thrombosis or Dangerous Blood Clots) in my past. Although I haven't been on blood thinners for some time I am still watchful of any swelling in my legs. These are some great ideas in your article. I will be passing this along.

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on May 14, 2012:

Hi Nell. The first really hot day we had in a while and my ankles just ballooned, so had to look into it and then thought why not do the hub. I had been out to a restaurant for lunch that day so couldn´t avoid all the salt they sprinkle on by the handful out here. Thanks for all your comments. Really appreciate someone reading my stuff. Take care.

Nell Rose from England on May 14, 2012:

Hi, like you I am prone to swollen ankles, especially a couple of years ago, I even wrote a hub about it similar to yours, it was a nightmare! my ankles got bigger and bigger, and the pain! ouch! I am quite small so it wasn't a weight thing, but for some reason they swelled and then went down, great hub and really good info, cheers nell

Anne (author) from United Kingdom on May 14, 2012:

Thank you Kittythedreamer. Knowing what you write about made me laugh with your comment " Dead on".

I am new to Hubpages so all these great comments really mean a lot and are keeping me going. I really really wanted to link one of your hubs to one of mine but haven´t discovered how to do that yet. All I got when I tried was suggested links and your hub did´nt appear. Thanks again for comments and follow.Bye for now.

Kitty Fields from Summerland on May 14, 2012:

Awesome tips to avoid swollen ankles in the summer, and your medical explanation was DEAD ON. Great job, I'll be reading more! :) Voted up, useful, and awesome.