Puffy ankles may be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as kidney or heart disease. When a person experiences swelling of the ankles or feet, he should note whether other symptoms are present as well. Diabetes may cause puffy ankles when infection is present. More seriously, blood clots may form on the leg and cause swelling of feet or ankles. This condition not always caused by a medical condition or disease; some cases may be due to obesity or from exerting excessive pressure on the ankle joint.
Sprains often cause puffy and swollen ankles in children and adults. Sprained ankles are a common sports related injury that may produce pain and immobility. Rest, ice and compression may help alleviate the symptoms of a sprained ankle. A physician may recommend an X-ray of the ankle to be sure the bone is not broken.
Some individuals who take steroidal medications such as prednisone, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may experience puffiness or swelling. Diuretics may also cause edema and swollen ankles. Individuals who take these types of drugs may also notice swelling in other areas of the body, including the face. Modifying the dosage or switching to another medication may improve the situation, but this should be done only with a doctor's approval.
Individuals suffering from dehydration may experience swollen ankles and feet, as do those who consume large amounts of sodium. These are both generally temporary conditions, and once the body becomes hydrated or the person changes his diet to include less sodium, the swelling should decrease. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth and skin, extreme thirst and dizziness.
During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, some women experience swollen ankles or feet. In most cases, moderate swelling is not serious and will generally decrease after childbirth. To relieve the discomfort of puffiness and minor swelling during pregnancy, it's best to rest and elevate the feet for an hour or two during the day.
For precautionary measures, an individual who who suddenly develops puffy ankles and foot swelling should consult a physician. The doctor will typically perform a physical examination that may include blood work to test for liver and kidney problems. He will also note whether the patient has a history of heart related problems or if there are diabetics in his family.