Well, summer is here. And boy has it packed a punch! After that seemingly forever winter, the warmth of the sun has felt wonderful the last few weeks. But there are days the sun feels a little too hot. And for some, that heat means inflammation, redness, and painful swelling in certain areas. It’s during these summer months, we treat a number of patients looking to reduce that swelling. But why do we swell in the heat in the first place? And what are some things we can do to treat it at home?
Why Does It Happen?
Heat can cause temporary dilation in your blood vessels. Yet, when you are overheated, the body can sometimes have trouble moving your blood back to the heart. As a result, fluid can begin to pool. This is especially true in the legs and feet. The extra fluid can make your skin tight and shiny. This sensation is also referred to as heat-related edema.
Too Much Salt: When your body has too much sodium and not enough water, your body will retain any water you drink – which will cause swelling.
Heat: Excess body heat can cause the blood vessels to expand. This allows fluids to flow into the surrounding tissues.
Gravity: Too much standing or sitting can cause the fluids in your body to pool in the lower extremities.
Organ Issues: Problems with the heart, kidneys or liver can cause circulation issues. This often results in swelling.
Medications: Certain medications can contribute to swelling. These include antidepressants, calcium channel blocker blood pressure pills, hormone birth control pills, testosterone, and steroids.
Obesity: If you are overweight, you are more likely to experience swelling.
How to Find Relief When You Begin to Swell in the Heat
There are many things you can do at home to find relief from heat-related edema. Elevating the swollen body part counteracts against the effect of gravity. This allows normal blood and fluid to return from the extremities to the heart. Exercise is another activity that improves blood flow. Not to mention helps return said blood back to the heart.
Brief walking and simple leg movements can ease the swelling as well. Support stockings are a tool that many use to reduce their swelling. If your swelling is triggered by a medical condition, communicate with your doctor about other ways to relieve your edema.
Try These Tips!
- Drink more water! You should be drinking at least eight glasses a day.
- Limit dietary sodium. This includes foods like table salt, salted peanuts, pretzels, chips, and breakfast cereals.
- Avoid really long walks in the heat. Choose to exercise during the cooler parts of the day.
- Flex and bend the affected area in circular motions to get your blood moving.
- Cooldown by placing a wet towel over those areas
- If you stand all day at work, take “walking breaks” during the day to ease the pressure and discomfort.
If you’re someone who tends to swell in the heat, avoid the extreme heat as much as possible. Keeping the body cool can minimize the dilation of blood vessels. And can prevent the accumulation of fluids in the extremities. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. If you have to work outdoors, take breaks to cool down. If you’re able to, gradually acclimate yourself to the weather. Equally important, avoid prolonged sitting or standing. Immobility causes fluids to pool. If a situation such as a long car, train or plane ride requires prolonged sitting, it is important to take brief exercise breaks. If walking is not possible, doing leg or calf raises can help.
Seek a Professional
These home remedies won’t always work. This is why you need to seek the help of a professional if your symptoms do not subside. Talk to your medical doctor or trusted health professional if you swell in the heat.
Chiropractic care can also help with edema. They can use tools such as cryotherapy, diathermy, and ultrasounds to help you lessen your symptoms. Not to mention, learn why the symptoms are occurring in the first place. Contact us today to schedule an introductory chiropractic session. We can discuss your symptoms and other concerns as part of my initial chiropractic workup for you as a new patient to our practice.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.