Why Ankles Swell When Sitting: Causes and How to Treat It

feet and ankle swelling left while sitting at a desk that often relapses during the day. This can happen on both or only one side only. Perhaps the lower body area is also affected. know more about what do swollen ankles indicate? and Why Ankles Swell When Sitting: Causes and How to Treat It.

Although swelling in the legs, limbs, and ankles usually does not pose a significant health risk, it is important to know when to see a doctor.


Why Ankles Swell When Sitting

Abnormal fluid buildup in the body is called edema. Edema is commonly seen in the legs and ankles, due to the effects of gravity, swelling is highly visible in this location. Common causes of edema are long-standing, prolonged sitting, pregnancy, overweight, and age.


What is edema?

Edema is the accumulation of fluid between the body’s cells. Edema can occur throughout the body but is most clearly visible on the arms or limbs. Edema occurs when fluid in the blood vessels exits into the surrounding tissues. The fluid subsequently accumulates, causing the body’s cells to become bloated.

Mild edema is harmless, but can also indicate more serious conditions, such as heart failure, liver, kidney, and brain failure. Therefore, a check-up with a doctor during edema is very important to find out the cause. Treatment will be done based on the cause.


Types of edema in the body

Peripheral edema

This swelling usually occurs in the ankles, legs, hands, and arms. In addition to the swelling, peripheral edema usually makes it difficult for a person to move that part of the body. Peripheral edema usually marks a problem in the blood pressure system, lymph nodes, and kidneys.

also know, Swollen Feet And Legs Elderly: How To Treat At Home


Pulmonary edema

Pulmonary edema is a condition where the lungs are over-fluidized, making it difficult for you to breathe. This condition usually occurs due to congestive heart failure or acute pulmonary injury. People with pulmonary edema usually have a faster-than-usual heartbeat, weakness, and cough that is sometimes accompanied by blood.

These symptoms will usually get worse as you lie down. Pulmonary edema is a serious condition, even including medical emergencies. Because edema in the lungs can cause respiratory failure until death.


Cerebral edema

Cerebral edema, as the name suggests, occurs in the brain. This condition arises due to various triggers such as when the head is hit by a hard object, blocked or ruptured blood vessels, having a tumor, to an allergic reaction.

Cerebral edema is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms usually include headache, stiff neck or pain, partial or complete memory loss, daze, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.


Macular edema

Macular degeneration may be a serious complication of diabetic retinalopathy. This condition occurs when fluid accumulates in a part of the eye called the macula, precisely in the middle of the retina. This occurs when a damaged blood vessel in the retina secretes fluid into the macula. As a result, swelling is inevitable. Macular edema usually makes a person visually impaired, including in seeing colors.


Edema pedal

When fluid builds up in the lower and upper legs, it is called pedal edema. Most commonly, the condition affects pregnant women or those who are older. People with pedal edema often have difficulty moving because their legs are often numb.



Lymphedema can be defined as swelling of the legs or arms caused by damage to the lymphnodes. This damage is most common due to cancer treatments such as surgery and radiation. Cancer itself can also inhibit the lymph nodes and cause fluid buildup.


Signs and symptoms of edema

Symptoms of edema depend on the location and amount of fluid accumulation held in the tissues. However, generally in patients with edema, symptoms such as:

  • Swelling of the tissues under the skin, which is especially easy to find on the edema areas of the hands and feet.
  • Stretched or shiny skin in the edema-area.
  • Basins in the skin called pitting edema when the skin that has edema is pressed for a few seconds.
  • Infections, itching, and scarring.
  • Enlarged stomach.
  • Pain that limits the movement space of the arm, on the edema in the arm area.
  • The foot becomes heavy and if left can cause ulcers on the skin of the foot, on the edema in the foot area.

Severe edema can present harmful symptoms such as difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and chest pain.


What causes edema

The cause of edema is the fluid present in the blood vessels leaking and coming out into the tissues. Excess fluid accumulates in the surrounding tissues, causing swelling. There are many conditions that can cause edema, including:

  • Sitting for long periods of time in a single position or sitting down
  • Eating lots of foods that contain salt
  • Symptoms of premenstrual
  • Bee stings
  • Skin infections
  • Pregnancy, because the body will store more fluids and sodium for the needs of the fetus.
  • Side effects of drugs such as hypertensive drugs, anti-erythrocyte drugs, drugs containing steroids, estrogens, and thiazolidinediones type antidiabetic drugs.

Edema can also occur in the presence of more serious diseases, such as:

Heart failure

In patients with heart failure, one or more heart cavities are not able to pump blood properly. Therefore, blood can accumulate in the legs and ankles, causing swelling. Heart failure can also cause swelling of the abdomen. In some cases, pulmonary edema with symptoms of shortness of breath can also occur.


Allergic reactions

Edema is a common symptom of allergic reactions. Blood vessels secrete fluid into the surrounding area of the body in response to allergens (substances that cause allergies).


Lack of albumin protein

Proteins, including albumin, play a role in keeping fluid in blood vessels. Lack of protein in the blood can cause fluid in the blood vessels to come out and accumulate, resulting in edema. For example in nephrotic syndrome disease.



Severe burns also cause fluid leakage to tissues throughout the body. Similar to burns, severe infections can also cause fluid leakage.


Head trauma

Head trauma can cause cerebral edema. Other conditions such as hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood), brain tumors, and hydrocephalus can also cause cerebral edema.


Cirrhosis of the liver

Cirrhosis of the day can cause fluid buildup in the stomach (ascites) and legs.


Kidney disease

Damage to small blood vessels in the kidneys can lead to nephrotic syndrome. In nephrotic syndrome, low levels of albumin protein can cause fluid buildup and edema.


Disorders or weakness of venous veins

Patients with chronic venous insufficiency experience damage to the venous valves in the legs. This leads to a build-up of fluid in the legs and edema of the feet. Sudden swelling of one side of the leg accompanied by pain in the calf can be caused by deep vein thrombosis. This should be reported to your doctor immediately.


Disorders of the lymphatic vascular system

Lymphatic blood vessels help remove excess fluid from the tissues. Disorders of the lymphatic vascular system cause edema.


Severe protein deficiency or deficiency

The presence of protein deficiency from food for a long time can lead to fluid buildup and edema.


Side effects of the drug

Some types of drugs can cause side effects in the form of edema. Examples include antihypertensive drugs, corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), estrogen hormones, and diabetes medications.


Food factors

Some food factors influence the risk of edema, such as:

  • consume too much salt, in people who are prone to edema.
  • malnutrition, where edema can occur due to low levels of protein in the blood.
  • low consumption of vitamins B 1, B 6, and B.


Risk factors for edema

Risk factors for edema can include:

  • pregnancy.
  • Consumption of certain medications, such as blood pressure-lowering drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, drugs containing steroids, estrogens, and diabetes drugs of the type thiazolidinediones.
  • Chronic diseases, such as heart failure, kidney disease, or liver disease.
  • History of operations.

Why Ankles Swell When Sitting: Causes and How to Treat It

Diagnosis Edema

Generally, edema does not require a diagnosis. Diagnosis of edema is more emphasized in conditions that can cause the onset of this condition. To understand this, your doctor will ask for your medical history and perform a physical examination first.

If necessary, other examinations such as chest x-rays, ultrasound, MRI, blood tests, and urine tests will be performed to determine the exact cause of the disease that causes edema.


How to treat edema

How to treat edema will be determined based on the cause, so that the condition can be treated properly. Some of the edema treatments that can be recommended by a doctor include:


Some things that can be done at home to reduce edema include:

  • Eat healthy foods, avoid packaged foods that are high in salt.
  • Moderate exercise.
  • Avoid cigarettes and alcohol.
  • Using compression stockings.
  • Acupuncture or massage.

Discuss with the doctor before self-medication at home.


Medical treatment depends on the cause.

Treatment of edema due to pregnancy

Edema due to pregnancy needs to be examined further as significant fluid buildup can be dangerous.


Treatment of edema due to heart failure

Diuretic drugs can be administered in conjunction with other medications to improve heart function.


Treatment of edema due to cirrhosis of the liver

Stopping alcohol consumption, reducing salt intake, and diuretic drugs can improve symptoms.


Lymphedema Treatment

Diuretic drugs may help in early lymphedema. Compression stockings are also recommended.


Treatment of edema due to drugs

Drugs that cause edema can be replaced or discontinued.



Untreated edema can cause:

  • painful swelling, with increasingly severe pain.
  • stiffness and difficulty walking.
  • the skin stretches and itches.
  • infection in the swelling area.
  • scarring between the layers of tissue.
  • poor blood circulation.
  • Loss of elasticity in the arteries, veins and joints
  • ulceration of the skin.

Any disease or underlying condition requires treatment to prevent it from becoming more serious.


How to prevent edema

Several actions can be taken to prevent edema from reoccurring. However, always consult the doctor who treated you before taking such precautions. Ways of prevention of edema can be:

Moving muscles in the affected area of edema

Moving the muscles in the affected area of edema can help pump excess fluid back into the heart. Ask your doctor about the movements that can be done and safe to reduce edema in your limbs.



Elevation or elevation of the edema-affected limbs is higher than the position of the heart, several times a day.


Massage and compression with tools

This step is done to help in moving excess fluid arising from edema.


Compression stockings

If one of your limbs has edema, your doctor will advise you to wear compression stockings or gloves that are usually worn after the edema has subsided, to prevent further swelling.


Limiting salt consumption

Reducing salt consumption can also be practiced. because salt has the effect of holding back body fluids and can aggravate edema.


When to consult a doctor

Consult a doctor if you experience swelling, loose or shiny skin, or a hollow on the skin when the edema is pressed for a few seconds.

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience shortness of breath and chest pain. This condition can be a sign of pulmonary edema that requires immediate treatment.

If you experience leg pain and swelling that does not improve after sitting for a long time, contact your doctor immediately. This can indicate the presence of blood clots that clog the blood vessels of the legs (deep vein thrombosis).


What to prepare before consulting a doctor

You can prepare the following items for inspection:

  • Note down all symptoms.
  • Keep a record of all the diseases you have been or are currently experiencing.
  • Record your recent travel history.
  • Notify your doctor if you take any medications, vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies or other forms of vitamin.
  • Note the questions that you would like to ask your doctor.

It is also possible to ask your family and friends to accompany when you visit a doctor. They can provide moral support as well as assist you in remembering the information submitted by the doctor.


What the doctor does during the consultation

  • The doctor will ask the following questions:
  • What are the symptoms you feel?
  • Do you have edema-related risk factors?
  • Are there family members or people around you with the same symptoms?
  • Have you sought medical help before? If so, what are the treatments you have tried?

After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination and recommend a supporting examination to ensure the diagnosis of edema. With this, handling can be given appropriately.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button