Swollen legs and ankles: why it happens and how to prevent it

General Healthcare

  6 Minutes

Have you ever noticed your legs feeling a little like overstuffed balloons at the end of a long day? Leg swelling, caused by a fluid buildup, called oedema, is a common condition that can leave you feeling uncomfortable, or even in pain.
Our legs are the workhorses of our body, carrying us throughout the day. So, it’s natural to be alarmed when they feel puffy or tight. While some causes of leg swelling are serious, many are easily explained and even preventable. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind leg swelling, explore prevention methods, and help you determine when to seek medical attention.

There are different reasons for swelling in your legs and ankles. Some reasons are not concerning, while others are serious and require immediate medical attention. In this article, we will discuss why legs and ankles swell and ways to prevent it.

First, let’s take a closer look at the common causes of leg swelling:

  • Standing: Swelling is common for people who are on their feet a lot during the day. If this goes away once you have a chance to put your feet up and rest, there is no reason to be concerned. It is important to wear shoes that support your feet and legs correctly, as well as comfortable clothing. Hydration is very important if you’re on your feet, so make sure you’re drinking enough filtered water every day. Try to sit for five minutes every hour that you are standing.
  • Inflammation: This is your body’s natural response to injury. If you have an injury like a sprained ankle or a medical condition that affects your joints such as arthritis you are likely to experience swelling.
  • Medication: Some antidepressants, blood pressure medications, hormones and steroids can cause leg swelling.
  • Lifestyle: Weight, habits and diet can contribute to swelling. Eating too much salt can cause water retention, and spending hours sitting down can cause your legs to swell.
  • Pregnancy: Swollen legs are common in the third trimester, especially towards the end of the pregnancy. This can be a sign of preeclampsia, so it is important to undergo regular blood pressure monitoring.
  • Liver and Kidney problems: Chronic liver disease can lead to a build-up of fluid in the legs. Swollen legs often accompany kidney disease too.
  • Heart problems: If your heart isn’t strong enough to pump blood through your body as well as it should, blood could back up in the veins in your lower extremities, causing swelling. Swelling from the knee down on both legs could indicate cardiovascular problems or stress on your heart.
  • Blood Clots: When a blockage is caused by a blood clot deep in the veins of the legs, it is called a deep vein thrombosis. When the blood cannot be pumped from the leg due to a blockage, swelling occurs. If this blood clot breaks loose, it can travel to the lungs and cause a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism. Painful swelling in one leg (particularly after sitting for a long time), accompanied by skin redness can be indicative of a blood clot and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Dehydration: Swelling of the ankles on both legs can be a sign of dehydration. Even mild dehydration can affect your blood pressure, heart rate and kidney function. The importance of water cannot be stressed enough! Keep a water bottle with you at all times and track how much you drink each day to make sure you’re staying hydrated.
  • Air travel: Take care of yourself when flying. Wear comfortable clothes, make sure you move your legs, stay hydrated and avoid alcohol when on a plane.

When should you seek out medical attention for swollen legs and ankles?

  • If the swelling lasts longer than a day.
  • If your legs and ankles swell regularly.
  • If you have a fever.
  • If you have a history of heart disease, liver or kidney conditions.
  • If you are pregnant and experience a sudden increase in swelling.
  • If the swelling is accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain, blurry vision or shortness of breath.

Lifestyle changes to prevent swelling

Swollen legs and ankles may be concerning, but the good news is that you can prevent or manage many of the causes. You can lower your risk of leg and ankle swelling by making lifestyle changes. So, don’t just treat the swelling, take steps to address the underlying issue!

  • Drink water: You must drink enough filtered water every day for your body weight. Being sufficiently hydrated will prevent water retention and help the kidneys and liver to function correctly. This is especially important when it is extremely hot, or in winter when water intake is neglected in favour of hot drinks. Alfred Vogel said that a good indicator of whether you are hydrated enough and your kidneys are functioning properly is how often you urinate during the day. You should be urinating at least 9 times per day and your urine should be almost clear.
  • Follow the Mediterranean Diet: The Mediterranean Diet is scientifically proven to reduce the risk of chronic diseases by lowering bad cholesterol, protecting the health of the heart and promoting longevity. This diet limits salt and refined and processed foods and supports a healthy body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. The Mediterranean Diet prioritises fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes and lean protein.
  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle: Exercise is important for circulation, weight management and general health. When you are sitting down, avoid crossing your legs.

To support your health and prevent swollen legs and ankles, try these products:

A.Vogel Crataegus Oxy A.Vogel Crataegus Oxy: Crataegus Oxy is an herbal medicine and cardiac tonic to promote healthy heart function. It assists weakened heart performance due to heart failure and poor blood supply to the heart muscle (congestive and ischemic heart disease). Crataegus helps improve the flow of blood to the heart and helps the heart push blood more effectively out of the heart and into the arteries.

 

A.Vogel Nephrosolid A.Vogel Nephrosolid: Made from fresh organically grown or wild-harvested herbs, Nephrosolid is a tonic that supports the function and health of the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract and supportive treatment of mild fluid retention.

 

A.Vogel Boldocynara A.Vogel Boldocynara: Alfred Vogel gave a lot of attention to the liver, gallbladder, kidneys and bladder because of their extreme importance in maintaining general health. He developed two herbal tonics for these organs which he used frequently to great effect in his patients. One of these was Nephrosolid, the other was Boldocynara for the liver. Vogel always treated the liver and the kidneys simultaneously because their filter systems are so closely related. Most of his patients were required to use these tonics until he was sure that they were on their way to good health.

 

A.Vogel Venaforce Forte A.Vogel Venaforce Forte: Venaforce Forte addresses symptoms of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency such as tired, heavy, aching & painful legs, swollen legs, restless legs, cramping and sensation of tension in the legs and unsightly veins.

 

A.Vogel Ginkgoforce A.Vogel Ginkgoforce: Made from freshly harvested organically grown Ginkgo biloba leaves, A.Vogel Ginkgoforce supports circulation and cognitive health. It is indicated for the supportive treatment of circulation problems leading to symptoms such as coldness, discomfort of the extremities and heaviness of the legs.

 

A.Vogel Circulation Formula A.Vogel Circulation Formula: A homeopathic medicine which assists in the treatment of poor circulation. Improves circulation in arteries and veins. A.Vogel Circulation Formula treats high and low blood pressure, blue veins on feet and legs, feet and/or hands cold and blue, bypass patients, after a heart attack, poor circulation, heavy legs, swollen calves and/or feet, restless legs, and other circulation problems.

 

THRESHHold Real MSM THRESHHold Real MSM: This supplement is used as an anti-inflammatory and assists in the temporary relief of pain, swelling, redness, inflammation and difficult mobility of joints in patients with arthritis. It improves the range of motion and physical function in arthritic patients. Supports recovery from exercise and reduces post-exercise muscle soreness and joint pain.
Pegasus Fluid Balance Pegasus Fluid Balance: This supplement has a diuretic effect when fluid loss is required, otherwise it will hold on to water, distributing it as needed. It is useful for fluid retention or oedema, swollen feet during flights as well as dehydration due to vomiting & diarrhoea, profuse sweating or heat stroke.

 

Oxiprovin Oxiprovin: Oxiprovin is a health supplement that contains grape seed extract. It is a source of antioxidants called oligomeric proanthocyanidins for the maintenance and preservation of good health and venous health. If your swelling is severe, take Oxiprovin twice a day.

 

For infections and injuries, consult a health professional. Products that are supportive in this instance are:

By incorporating these simple lifestyle changes into your routine and supporting your health with the products we have mentioned above, you can not only reduce swelling in your legs and ankles but also improve your overall health and well-being.

In the words of Alfred Vogel, “Foresight is the source of health and happiness. The decision to adopt a natural balanced diet and heed the body’s own signals must be taken freely and deliberately.”

References and additional reading:

  1. An approach to the swollen leg (2023) Cape Town Vascular. Available at: https://capetownvascular.co.za/our-services/an-approach-to-the-swollen-leg/ (Accessed: 14 June 2024).
  2. Gardner, A. (no date) Swollen feet or ankles? 13 possible causes, Health. Available at: https://www.health.com/condition/heart-failure/swollen-feet (Accessed: 14 June 2024).
  3. Leg swelling treatment & causes (no date) Leg Swelling Specialists in Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia | Leg Pain Doctors. Available at: https://www.cvmus.com/vascular-treatment/leg-swelling-treatment (Accessed: 14 June 2024).
  4. Professional, C.C. medical (no date) What is the Mediterranean diet?, Cleveland Clinic. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16037-mediterranean-diet (Accessed: 14 June 2024).
  5. Swollen foot, ankle, or leg (no date) Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/swollen-ankle-and-leg (Accessed: 14 June 2024).
  6. What causes swelling in your lower legs? (no date) What Causes Swelling in Your Lower Legs?: Kishore K. Arcot , MD, FACC, FSCAI, FSVM, RPVI: Cardiology. Available at: https://www.memphisvein.com/blog/what-causes-swelling-in-your-lower-legs (Accessed: 14 June 2024).