Why Do Ankles Swell in Hot Weather? Prevention and Treatment

Updated on June 6, 2017
bac2basics profile image

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

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, can cause edema.
  • Heart, kidney, or liver failure.

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

Terms for Swelling

Edema: Swelling from excessive fluid in tissue.

Peripheral Edema: Swelling in the hands and feet.

Heat Edema: Swelling caused by overheating.

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


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, 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.

Tips to Avoid Swollen Ankles

  1. Cut down your salt intake and drink lots more plain old tap 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.

Ankles Still Swelling in the Heat?

  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. Please do note that I am neither a doctor nor a medic. My articles are soley for advice and you should seek immediate medical attention if you are in anyway worried about your health.

Easy Tricks to Relieve Swollen Ankles


Although I have no medical training, I like to write about problems and solutions to health issues I am familiar with, and I do research my topics thoroughly before writing about them. This should in no way influence your judgement, and if you are worried about anything to do with your health and well-being, my articles are not meant to be a substitute for visiting your GP or health professional.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        bac2basics 9 months ago

        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 :-)

      • profile image

        Deanna Goldberg 9 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Bac2basics 11 months ago

        Hi Sandra.

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

      • profile image

        Sandra Holden 11 months ago

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

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 3 years ago from Spain

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

      • old albion profile image

        Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

        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.


      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 3 years ago from Spain

        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.

      • old albion profile image

        Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

        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.


      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 4 years ago from Spain

        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.

      • profile image

        leadturtleone 4 years ago

        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 profile image

        maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain

        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

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 5 years ago from Spain

        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. :)

      • profile image

        Julie 5 years ago

        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

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 5 years ago from Spain

        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 . :)

      • profile image

        patrick 5 years ago

        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

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 5 years ago from Spain

        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.

      • profile image

        ginger nut 5 years ago

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

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 5 years ago from Spain

        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 profile image

        diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

        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

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 5 years ago from Spain

        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 profile image

        Ann810 5 years ago from Sunny Cali

        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.

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 5 years ago from Spain

        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.

      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 5 years ago from West By God

        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.

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 5 years ago from Spain

        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 profile image

        Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

        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

      • bac2basics profile image

        Anne 5 years ago from Spain

        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.

      • kittythedreamer profile image

        Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

        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.