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senior woman fanning herselfSummer is synonymous with vacation, backyard BBQs, sunshine – and hot temperatures. If the warmth triggers a physical reaction in your body, this might not be the most enjoyable time of year. Specifically, swelling in the legs or feet that can be painful and restrictive.

Heat edema is a condition that causes swelling when temperatures are high. Learn how to address the symptoms of heat edema, so you can enjoy the summer season.

About Heat Edema

In general, edema occurs when excess fluid gets trapped in the body’s tissues. Heat can cause the blood vessels to expand in order to help improve blood flow. If you suffer from varicose veins, extra swelling can lead to additional leg pain and heaviness.

Venous insufficiency occurs when the vein valves weaken and do not allow blood to flow back up to the heart. It may also move backwards and pool in your legs, creating the gnarled appearance of varicose veins. Common factors leading to varicose vein disease include heredity, gender, pregnancy and age.

Other medical conditions, including chronic lung disease and congestive heart failure, can also increase pressure and fluid buildup, resulting in lower extremity swelling.

Who’s at Risk for Heat Edema?

While the condition is not uncommon, you are more likely to experience swelling from heat edema if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Suffer from venous insufficiency
  • Are pregnant
  • Are not used to the heat

Older adults are also at increased risk, due to medical conditions that affect circulation.

Symptoms of Heat Edema

In addition to the legs and feet, you may experience abdominal swelling, skin dimpling and stretched or shiny skin. To help ease the symptoms of heat edema:

  • Elevate your legs
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Wear compression stockings

How to Prevent Swelling

This time of year, you want enjoy all that summer has to offer. To prevent heat edema:

  • Avoid heat as much as possible
  • Seek shade when outside
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t sit or stand for too long

Varicose vein disease and its complications should not keep you from your favorite summer activities. To learn more about treatment options at the Vein Centers of Connecticut, request a consultation today!