When the ankles, legs and feet are swollen, it is medically called ankle edema. This condition is not painful and it mostly occurs in the elderly, but it can appear in the young people as well. Edema occurs because of the fluid that retains in the cells. Even though ankle edema is mainly observed to happen in the peripheral parts of the body, it can involve any region of the body.
Causes of ankle edema
The causes of the ankle edema vary and they range from a simple injury to the serious health conditions.
Swelling of the ankles results from the medical conditions that cause the blood and fluid retention, such as leg infection and injuries that lead to the forming of the blood clots. Furthermore, varicose veins, obstruction in the lymphatic system and insect bites are some conditions that are likely to lead to the occurrence of ankle edema. It is also considered that arthritis and gout, as well as high blood pressure and surgery of the foot may also cause the swelling of the ankles.
Ankle swelling may be the consequence of excessive consummation of foods high in sodium, like salty foods. The kidneys are the organs that regulate the amount of sodium in the body and if they do not excrete the excess sodium from the body, it tends to accumulate in the tissues resulting in the fluid retention and ankle edema.
There are several types of medications that have ankle edema as a side effect. These medications include birth control or contraceptive pills, calcium blockers, antidepressants and low blood pressure medicines, as well as steroids.
In women, ankle edema is quite common during pregnancy because of the fluid retention, but also due to the extra pressure that the growing baby makes on the veins in the pelvic area. As a consequence of this pressure, the flow of the blood to the heart is slower, which forces the fluid from the blood vessels into the tissues of the ankles and feet. Ankle edema is also thought to be caused by obesity, menstruations, aging and standing for a long time.
Symptoms of ankle edema
The main symptom of ankle edema is swelling, which tends to become worse at the end of a day. However, there are several other symptoms that might occur along with swelling like heart palpitations, increased urination and ulceration of the affected region. Furthermore, headaches, swollen hands and weight gain are also some of the symptoms of this condition.