Dr Ranj on causes of swollen ankles and how to prevent them
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Your ankles and feet as well as your hands and legs might swell up when you enter a hot, sunny or tropical climate or experience a heatwave. The rapid change in temperature or humidity can result in dehydration and a range of minor to major symptoms for bloating to heatstroke. If you’re having a hard time with swollen ankles in the current heatwave, here are 6 ways to beat swollen feet and ankles in hot weather.
According to the experts at A. Vogel, swollen ankles and feet aren’t such a bad thing.
The herbal remedy product site’s advice reads: “The phenomena is actually a result of your body’s natural cooling mechanism.
“When you are too hot your veins dilate (expand), allowing fluids to leak into surrounding tissues.
“The widening of these blood vessels in warm weather is perfectly natural as it’s our bodies’ way of trying to keep itself cool.”
However, the veins expand and the blood vessels widen, your veins struggle to pump blood back to the heart and have trouble fighting gravity.
The site adds: “This pulls fluid down to the ankles and feet, causing it to pool, resulting in swelling and discomfort.”
Swollen ankles and feet can be exacerbated by a number of factors including eating too much salt, sitting down or standing up for too long, pregnancy, and age.
The A. Vogel site reveals six ways to beat swollen ankles in hot weather.
Stay out of the sun
You don’t have to stay indoors all day but try to avoid sitting outside during the hottest part of the day and sit in the shade or air-conditioned rooms to stay cool.
The A. Vogel site reads: “Keep a mini fan handy to keep you cool and try a cooling foot spray – which can refresh and cool down hot feet and ankles quickly.”
If you love baths, you’ll have to keep hot baths to a minimum as well as hot showers and saunas.
The site adds: “Try to keep your water temperature warm but not too hot, and at the end of a shower a good tip is to blast your legs with a jet of cold water to boost circulation.”
Excessive and intense exercise or activity can contribute to swelling in the lower limbs, but gentle exercise will reduce swelling.
The site says: “Gentle exercise such as walking and swimming is good for you as it helps to boost your circulation and get fluid build-up flowing again.
“A good way of ensuring you don’t overheat and add to any swelling is to exercise at cooler times of the day, such as the morning or early evening.
“Swimming is particularly good for swollen feet and ankles as it not only cools them down and keeps you off your feet, it also promotes gentle movement and stretching which helps to get fluids moving, while the water pressure can also help to improve circulation.
“Anything that pumps the calf muscles helps, even if you’re just treading water in the pool or simulating this movement while sitting at work.”
Keep feet elevated
If your feet and ankles are swollen, this is one of the first things you should do to help reduce the swelling.
This helps to reverse gravity’s effect on your limbs and reduce swelling.
The advice says: “It is recommended to raise your legs/feet higher than your heart, three to four times a day for 30 minutes each – depending on the severity of the swelling.
“When you go to bed you can also put a pillow under your ankles to help drain the excess fluid”
Drink lots of water to ensure the salt concentration in your blood is regulated.
This will stop your body from retaining any water you do drink and swelling up.
The site adds: “Excess salt is a big contributor to swelling, so by drinking more water you can help to dilute the amount of salt in your system and flush it out.
“Try to aim for at least eight to 10 glasses of plain water a day.
“If you struggle to drink plain water then try adding slices of cucumber and lemon to it.”
Eat specific foods
As mentioned, you need to be mindful of how much salt you consume in your diet.
The A. Vogel advice reads: “To limit your chances of swollen ankles and feet it is best to pass on the table salt and look at a low-sodium alternative or reduced salt varieties of foods which are usually high in salts, such as soups, sauces, crisps and smoked meats.
“Try to avoid eating highly processed foods as these often have a high salt content.
“Summer is a great time for adding more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet and there are some that are better than others when it comes to helping your swollen feet.
“Certain foods are natural diuretics, which increase and encourage urine production, and can provide relief from fluid retention.”
Natural diuretics such as beetroot, leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach, pumpkin, green beans, asparagus, onion, lemons and pineapple, do not strip your body of essential vitamins and minerals – unlike prescribed ones.
The seeds from Horse Chestnut trees can help tighten the membranes of the blood vessels, encouraging better venous circulation, according to A. Vogel.
The advice says: “Horse chestnut extracts in gels such as Venagel are soothing, help reduce swelling and provide a cooling relief to legs, ankles and feet that feel weary, heavy and uncomfortable.
“Plus, the act of massaging the gel helps to stimulate blood flow!
“Massage a small amount of the gel onto the skin two to three times a day using an upwards motion.
“Pay special attention to the ankles and the areas that feel most uncomfortable.”
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