Heat wreaks havoc on varicose veins, and stepping outside to enjoy a summer day can cause flare-ups of already painful symptoms. Unfortunately, high temperatures are nearly impossible to avoid parts of the year in Alabama. Two minutes outside in July and August spent gardening, hiking, or biking can leave you drenched in sweat and ready to return to the comforts of air conditioning. Varicose veins hate sweltering temperatures as much as you do, and they’re also begging for cool air. If you’re struggling with venous insufficiency, your first solution should be to schedule an appointment with the Vascular Center of Mobile. In the meantime, here’s what to be aware of when it comes to heat’s impact on varicose veins and the steps that you can take to keep your veins healthy all summer long.
How does heat impact varicose veins?
Varicose veins occur when a vein valve ceases to function as it should. As a result, blood is not properly pumped through your system and pools in the veins, normally in the lower leg. This causes dark, visible veins and heavy, aching legs. Adding heat exacerbates this condition as temperatures can cause swelling in the veins which decreases your veins’ ability to pump blood through your system. While excessive heat is hazardous for everyone, those with varicose veins should take extra care to avoid high temperatures. That doesn’t mean that you have to stay indoors and completely miss out on those neighborhood barbecues and pool parties. A few adjustments to your outdoor habits can help keep your veins healthy through the dog days of summer.
Stay as cool as possible
Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will be your first line of defense in staying cool and comfortable in the heat. However, those with varicose veins may feel self-conscious about wearing shorts to keep their legs cool. Minimally invasive procedures such as laser ablation can reduce the appearance of varicose veins, which may be the right option for you. If you are uncomfortable in shorts, consider trying loose culottes as an on-trend alternative to shorts. Additionally, keep light colors in your summer wardrobe instead of dark colors which absorb heat, and try to avoid direct sunlight, looking for shade whenever you can.
Clock some serious pool time
For the days when Alabama is simply too hot to handle, we’re fortunate enough to have pools, lakes, and beaches to cool us down. Swimming in cool water is a refreshing way to enjoy the outdoors while avoiding overwhelmingly high temperatures. The health benefits are an added bonus and a top reason for taking a dip in the pool this summer. This relaxing, low-impact exercise helps improve your venous health without putting too much pressure on your joints.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
No matter how good your venous health is, drinking water is critical, especially if you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time. Make sure to take sips throughout the day, not just when you’re thirsty as your body needs water long before you start craving it. Ample hydration is also highly beneficial for your venous health. Proper hydration helps your circulation and has bonus effects on the skin! Be sure to keep a 16oz or 24oz water bottle near you at all times to remind you to hydrate early and often!
Compression stockings (while you’re in the AC)
Compression therapy options like wearing compression stockings treat the symptoms of varicose veins by applying gradient pressure on your legs. The greatest pressure is put on your ankle and gradually less pressure is applied up the leg. This assists your veins in properly pumping blood upwards. While it’s certainly too warm in the summertime to wear them outside, remembering to wear them while you’re in the comforts of your home (and the air conditioning!) can help reduce the risk of blood pooling in your legs. If you’re uncertain of which compression stockings are right for you, consider consulting with the care team at Vascular Center of Mobile.
Following these summertime tips can help ensure you have all the fun you deserve this summer!
If you’re interested in finding more permanent relief for your varicose veins, request a consultation with Mobile Vascular Center by clicking here today.