Elevating the feet, wearing support stockings, reducing salt intake and taking certain medications help to reduce swelling in ankles. Edema is an abnormal accumulation of fluids in the feet, ankles and lower legs that is responsible for the swelling, according to MedlinePlus.
Gravity causes the excess fluid to collect in the lower extremities, according to Mayo Clinic. Elevating the legs and feet above the level of the heart several times daily helps to bring relief. Elevation of the feet when sleeping at night provides several hours for gravity to pull the fluid from the swollen ankles.
Compression stockings put pressure on the affected limbs to prevent fluids from collecting there, explains Mayo Clinic. These stockings are available at most drug stores.
Excess salt in the diet increases the body's retention of fluids. Patients who have problems with swelling should speak with their doctors and follow their recommendations regarding salt intake, according to Mayo Clinic.
If the edema relates to an underlying cause, WebMD recommends seeking treatment for the cause first. With congestive heart failure, the use of a diuretic such as furosemide causes the fluid to drain from the tissues and increases urine output. If the swelling is the result of taking certain medications, patients should discuss alternative treatment options with their doctors.