What Causes Swelling of the Feet and Ankles?

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Conditions that cause swollen feet and ankles include pregnancy, a foot or ankle injury, lymphedema and infections, explains WebMD. Other possible causes include heart, liver or kidney disease; a blood clot; or venous insufficiency. Some conditions associated with swollen feet and ankles are not serious, while others are very serious.

Sudden excessive swelling of the feet or ankles during pregnancy can be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia, states WebMD. When other symptoms are associated with foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy, such as pain in the abdominal area, headaches, nausea and vomiting or changes in vision, it is important to seek medical attention. Lymphedema is common among patients who have radiation treatment for cancer or lymph nodes removed. Venous insufficiency occurs when blood cannot move properly up the veins from the legs and feet to a person’s heart. This can cause skin ulcers and infection that require medical attention.

Individuals who have diabetic neuropathy can also experience swelling in the feet and ankles, according to WebMD. This condition can lead to infections, as neuropathy can cause reduced sensation in the feet. People with diabetic neuropathy should do a daily foot inspection to check for blisters or injuries. Blood clots can occur just under a person’s skin or deeper, which is potentially life-threatening. Deep vein thrombosis can block off blood flow in a major vein or artery, causing the clot to travel to the lungs or heart.