Florida summers are unpleasant. The heat skyrockets, and every moment outside becomes unbearable; even a 15-minute walk can leave someone drenched in sweat. While every Florida resident struggles to keep cool, these high temperatures are even more uncomfortable for those with varicose veins. If you have varicose veins, you may be wondering how to prevent further irritating them as we quickly approach the sweltering summer months. You may ask: do I have to make extreme changes to keep my veins healthy and comfortable? Will taking care of my venous health affect my summer plans? The answer is not at all! Taking care of your veins doesn’t have to be difficult. The vascular physicians in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center have a few tips to help you and your veins stay in top shape this summer.
Why does heat affect varicose veins?
To understand why heat affects varicose veins, it helps to know why varicose veins form in the first place. Your veins have valves that work hard to push blood through your body. Over time, these valves can grow weary or become damaged, making it more difficult to do their job properly. This is even harder to accomplish in the lower leg where veins must be strong enough to circulate blood against the flow of gravity. When these vein valves aren’t strong enough to be efficient, blood ends up pooling in the veins. The veins swell, creating a varicose vein.
And why does heat make this worse? Heat causes the veins to dilate, making it even harder for them to work properly—and easier for blood to stay in the vein. Varicose veins are already visibly dark and bumpy and can also cause legs to ache, itch, and feel heavy. The extra heat, then, adds extra discomfort to an already-frustrating health condition.
So, what can you do to prevent your varicose veins from getting worse while temperatures rise? Staying cool may be the obvious choice; if the heat outdoors is irritating the veins, then stay in air conditioned areas for maximum comfort. But who wants to stay indoors all summer when you could be spending time with friends or on a vacation? To take care of your veins while you enjoy this summer, you can try keeping these few tips in mind.
Since weakened vein valves cause varicose veins, strengthening those valves can help relieve some of the discomfort. When you take some time out of your day for light exercise, you relieve some of the swelling and venous congestion associated with varicose veins. Planning exercise for the evening gives added benefits, as it helps address any venous congestion that built up during the day.
Exercise may sound contradictory to avoiding heat and staying cool, but you don’t have to suffer out in the sun to reap the benefits. Swimming, for example, is a fantastic low-impact exercise that strengthens the legs, and the cool water is refreshing on a hot day! Also, a short walk during the evening can also strengthen your veins while avoiding the overwhelming afternoon sun.
Eating healthy foods always offers benefits. There are some foods specifically that reduce inflammation, which, of course, offers relief from swollen veins. Try mixing fresh herbs and salad greens into your diet. These foods help with the swelling and increase your circulation. A salad a day keeps the swollen veins away!
Magnesium deficiency can also be a key factor in blood pooling, so eating foods that are high in magnesium can also give your vein valves an added boost. You can minimize any magnesium deficiency by including avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens in your diet.
While including these foods will help your veins, keep in mind that there are foods that can do more harm than good. Watch your salt intake; excess salt leads to water retention, which causes the legs to swell. This summer, try swapping out those chips for fruits. The change will help your circulation while still tasting great.
Compression can be an easy way to help minimize swelling. By applying gradual amounts of pressure to the leg, compression socks help vein valves guide blood upward. As a result, this can be a great option for relieving tired, swollen legs that are under stress due to the heat. You can check with a specialist to see whether compression therapy would work for you; the level of compression you may need could be different from that friend who has spare compression socks lying around.
Wearing extra legwear might seem like it would be too warm to help. This is far from the truth. Compression legwear doesn’t have to be thick and warm. There are many new fabric options that breathe, thus giving you relief from swelling without being uncomfortably hot. Again, you can check with a specialist to see which options are available.
With these few easy options, you can help your veins stay comfortable and healthy this summer. On top of these, do your best to stay cool this summer. Stay in the shade and choose water over an alcoholic beverage during those summer barbecues. Opt for loose, light-colored clothing that breathes, rather than tight, heavy clothing in dark colors. And, if temperatures get unbearable, relax for a bit inside and enjoy the cool air. Varicose veins can be annoying but, with these small habits, you don’t have to ruin your plans to bring some comfort to your veins.
If you’re dealing with varicose veins this summer, come visit the vascular physicians in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center. There’s no need to deal with heavy, aching legs when you should be enjoying a summer vacation. Varicose veins also makes many people feel self-conscious about their veins, which often leads to wearing hot jeans that further irritate veins instead of cool, comfortable shorts. If it’s time to address your varicose veins, give us a call today at 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547. We’ll set up a treatment plan so you can feel confident and pain-free this summer.