Swollen ankles can be a problem for our loved ones.
Swollen ankles are a common problem among the elderly population. I dealt with this with my father as well. In many cases, ankle swelling may occur in response to an injury, while in some, it can indicate a severe underlying medical problem. In medical terms, swollen ankles are also known as pedal edema. This means water retention in soft tissues surrounding the ankle region or the ankle joint. Standing for long hours, excessive sodium intake or an inactive lifestyle are some conditions that can cause the ankles to swell.
While limiting salt intake, keeping your feet at rest, and exercising regularly may provide relief from swollen ankles, it is still necessary to get a thorough examination done to understand the underlying cause. In addition, dealing with this day out and being careful not to irritate the condition any further can cause strain on you as the caregiver.
Understanding swollen ankles for your loved one
Edema can be caused by two types: pitting edema and non–pitting edema. In pitting edema, a kind of indent is formed when we press the swollen ankles with a finger. In the non-pitting type, no incision is created when pressure is applied to the swollen part.
Many medical conditions are known to play a role in the cause of edema for your loved ones. These include:
It can drastically reduce the capability of the kidneys to filter out salts and water from the body. This causes sodium retention, which is the primary cause of edema.
Chronic lung disease
This can cause increased pressure in the lungs, which can cause swelling in the ankles.
Congestive heart failure
Congestive heart failure follows after a chronic heart problem. In this condition, the heart loses its efficiency in pumping blood, causing swelling in the ankles and the legs.
This condition is characterized by obstruction of the lymphatic system, which in turn causes fluid accumulation in the tissues.
A condition of the liver wherein severe scarring occurs due to alcohol abuse or infections such as hepatitis B or C. This causes the blood pressure to rise, leading to poor circulation in the feet and ankles.
Thyroid conditions, such as hypothyroidism
Poor or improper blood circulation in the affected area
Other possible conditions
In addition to the above conditions, other conditions can also cause swollen ankles for your loved one. These include:
- Injuries to the ankle, such as ankle sprain, broken ankle, fractured ankle, sprained ankle
There are many types of medications that can also cause swelling in the ankle. These medications include:
- Certain types of antidepressants, such as MAO inhibitors, tricyclics
- Non–steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin and ibuprofen
Understanding the cause of swollen ankles is necessary to create an appropriate treatment plan for your loved one.
Treating swollen ankles
Treatment of swollen ankles will mainly depend on the cause of the condition. However, if injury, fractures, or some serious medical condition is not the cause, then you, as the caregiver, can do the following for your loved ones:
- Help them to keep their legs at an elevated level whenever they sleep or are sitting.
- Ask them to engage in some other form of mild, regular exercise. Staying active is one of the primary keys to keeping edema at bay. An exercise bike can help, t; this is what I used for my father.
- Focus on their dietary intake. For example, reduce the amount of salt intake and also take a close look at the number of processed foods they areeateduce it to a minimum and focus more on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Keep your loved ones well-hydrated. Ask them to drink plenty of fluids to allow the kidneys to flush out the toxins and other components appropriately.
- Help them reduce their weight if they are overweight or obese. Maintaining an ideal body weight would exert less pressure on their ankles.
- Ask your loved one to wear compression socks, making them more comfortable and helping reduce enemas. In addition, compression stockings help improve the blood flow to the legs, causing a significant reduction in edema. Various types of compression stockings are available in drug stores, and you can choose the one that best suits the needs of your elderly loved one.
- Do not allow your loved one to sit for long periods. Instead, ask them to take a break, stand up, and walk for some time. Sitting for extended periods can again cause the ankles to swell.
Solutions I can help you with
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The tips mentioned above can make your loved one comfortable if the pedal edema isn’t due to a severe condition. However, if you also feel that some medications are causing pedal edema, it is best to discuss this with your doctor immediately. In addition, it would be best to remember that not all forms of pedal edema can be successfully treated at home with the remedies. Some types may require medical intervention; therefore, if you feel the edema isn’t getting better with home remedies, it is best to consult the doctor immediately.