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Ask the Experts: ‘Why Are My Ankles So Swollen?’

Warm weather makes the swelling worse, but you can treat some symptoms at home.


At the end of a long day, nothing feels better than putting your ankles up. And once you do, it can be hard to get up again and experience the pain and swelling once more. However, have you stopped and thought about why your ankles get so swollen in the first place? Understanding the cause of your pain may help you better alleviate it.

So, before you visit your doctor (and you should still visit your doctor), take a look at what our expert has to say. This week’s edition of “Ask the Experts” is all about swollen ankles, with advice from Heather Moday, MD.

Q: I have edema in my legs and ankles, and it always flares up in the heat. What can I do to reduce the painful swelling?  

A: You’re not alone! Warm weather causes blood vessels to expand, allowing gravity to pull body fluids to the legs and ankles, leading to swelling. But I can recommend a few simple strategies to reduce the swelling.  

The easiest one: When you sit down, elevate your legs to prevent fluid from pooling. Even better: Try pointing and flexing your feet while they’re elevated. Not only does this help improve circulation, but it also improves mobility in your feet and ankles.

For quick relief, you can also supplement with Siberian ginseng (eleuthero). In a study published in Nutrition Research, researchers found that the supplement increases oxygen in cells, improving circulation and lymphatic drainage to prevent fluid from settling in the legs. Study subjects who took 100 milligrams a day reduced symptoms like swelling and discomfort by 40 percent within four hours.  

The Expert

Heather Moday, MD, is the director of the Moday Center in Philadelphia. She is board-certified in allergy and immunology, as well as integrative and holistic medicine. You can follow her on Instagram (@theimmunitymd), where she shares information on health topics. And to ask her a question here, send an email to

Note: For custom advice taking your medical history into account, speak with your doctor.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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