How to handle leg swelling when the weather gets hot
The summer months bring lots of sun and heat. However, the with the warmer weather it can also bring swollen ankles and feet known as heat edema. As our bodies try and keep cool, our blood vessels constrict, making it much harder for blood to travel back to our hearts. The excess fluids can build up in our lower extremities and seep into the surrounding tissues, causing the swelling in your ankles and feet. So, what can we do to help ease the swelling in the hotter weather? Below are some helpful tips and tricks to ease the swelling.
Who is at risk for heat edema?
Anyone can have a bout of heat edema. However, there are some people who are more at risk for this condition. People who are not used to warmer climates have a higher risk of developing heat edema, due to the fact that their bodies have not properly acclimated to the warm temperatures. People who are overweight as well as the elderly are also more likely to develop heat edema, as there is a tendency to retain more water in these groups. Also, people with lymphedema are also at risk of edema, because their legs can get swollen at any given time regardless of the temperature outside. However, it is important to know that young, healthy people can develop this condition as well. Therefore, it is extremely important to recognize the warning signs and symptoms.
Symptoms of heat edema.
If you are not sure if you suffer from heat edema, then be on the lookout for the following symptoms. The most common is swelling in the legs and/or feet. You may experience puffiness or swelling directly under the skin, particularly on the legs or your arms. Next, if your skin is stretchy or shiny. Another symptom is if a dimple remains in the skin after pushing on it for several seconds. The final symptom is an increase in abdominal size.
So, now that you know about heat edema, it’s time to discuss how you or someone you know can handle your/their heat edema:
Put your feet up!
Literally, elevate your feet when they start to swell. Gravity works against us when it comes to swelling, so be sure to elevate your feet higher than your heart as often as you can, especially when the temperatures start climbing.
Get up and move periodically.
Staying stationary for too long can cause us to retain water. Moderate regular exercise like walking or swimming helps keep your blood circulating. Try and do your walking or swimming at the coolest part of the day, so early morning or evening.
Stay out of the heat as much as you can.
If you are prone to heat edema, avoiding the heat as much as possible is sensible.
Some ways to do this include:
Sit in shady places.
Periodically hang out in air-conditioned spaces to cool off.
Carry and use a small fan to help cool you off.
Avoid overly hot baths, showers, and saunas. • Apply a cooling foot spray. • At the end of a shower, blast your legs with a jet of cold water to boost circulation.
Drink plenty of water.
When the temperatures start to get warmer, your intake of water should increase too. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day can help reduce the amount of salt in your body, a leading contributor to water retention and swelling.
Add diuretics to your diet.
Foods that act as diuretics can help get rid of excess water in your body. Try adding green leafy vegetables, like spinach and lettuce, green beans, pineapple, pumpkin, onion, lemons and beetroot all have this effect.
Reduce your salt content.
Another way to control your diet is to reduce your salt intake. Lots of salt in your diet can contribute to water retention so reducing your salt intake can help reduce the risk of heat edema. Cutting back on salty snacks, smoked meats, soups, high processed foods, and sauces can help.
Heat edema is no picnic for many sufferers. The good news is, knowing the symptoms and how to alleviate the leg and feet swelling can help you get back to enjoying the summer sun. By making the necessary changes and accommodations for your heat edema, you’ll be able to manage it in any season.
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