Heat wreaks havoc on varicose veins, and stepping outside on a summer day can cause flare-ups of already painful symptoms. Unfortunately, high temperatures are nearly impossible to avoid parts of the year in Central Florida. The heat index continues to climb as we quickly approach the heart of summer. Two minutes outside in July and August can leave you drenched in sweat and aching to go back into the cool indoors. 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 stop should be to see one of the best vascular physicians in Orlando, John D. Horowitz, MD, FACS of Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center. In the meantime, you should be aware of the effects of heat on varicose veins and the steps that you can take to keep your veins healthy during the summer.
Why is heat bad for 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 only harms your veins further. Warm temperatures can cause swelling in the veins which, again, lessens your veins’ ability to pump blood through your system. While excessive heat is hazardous for everyone, those with varicose veins need to take extra care to avoid high temperatures. Luckily, that doesn’t mean that you have to stay indoors and completely miss out on those afternoon barbecues and pool parties. Don’t let varicose veins ruin your summer plans when a few adjustments to your outdoor habits can help keep your veins healthy through the season.
Stay as cool as possible
No one in Florida enjoys the feeling of standing in the direct sunshine while wearing warm clothes. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing is the first step to staying cool 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 endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) can reduce the appearance of varicose veins and make your legs beautiful again but, until then, try trading the shorts for a pair of loose culottes. Also, keep light colors in your summer wardrobe instead of dark colors which absorb heat. On top of wearing cool clothing, try to avoid direct sunlight and opt to have that summer barbecue in a shady park. No trees to provide shade? Canopies are a great choice in avoiding the rays of the sun. If you’re near the pool, make sure to hit the water regularly to cool down.
Spend more time at the pool
Florida may be too hot to handle but we’re lucky enough to have pools, lakes, and beaches to balance it out. 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.
In the heat, the venous system vasodilates and loses some vascular tone. So, there is a greater venous space for blood to pool in the legs. Swimming pool therapy helps because the cool water causes some vasoconstriction, increasing venous tone and decreasing blood pooling in the venous system. Also, we weigh less in the water, so the buoyancy helps counterbalance venous hypertension. The best thing to do in the pool is to walk in the shallow end or do calf raises; anything to squeeze the calf muscle that will drive increased venous return.
Pack a water bottle
No matter how good your venous health is, drinking water is a must, especially if you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time. A cool drink is a necessity to avoid dehydration and heat sickness in high temperatures. Make sure to take sips throughout the day, not just when you’re thirsty; your body needs water long before you start craving it. While water is imperative for staying cool and avoiding heat sickness, it’s also highly beneficial for your venous health. Proper hydration helps your circulation, and it’s great for your skin, too! Keep those water bottles near you when you’re at an outdoor event. Also, make sure to choose water over caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. Those drinks will add to the dehydration that you’re trying to avoid.
Put on compression stockings
Compression therapy treats 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. We wouldn’t recommend wearing them outdoors during July and August when the temperature is at its highest. You wouldn’t want to overheat while treating your symptoms! However, wearing them regularly indoors can prevent blood from pooling in your legs. After spending time in the hot weather, slip on the compression stockings to help your veins handle any stress the heat may have placed on them. Make sure to stop by Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center first to find the level of compression that fits your needs.
Following all of these tips can help you make it through the summer without making your veins miserable. Keep in mind that, sometimes, the outdoor heat is still unbearable, even after putting proper effort into keeping cool. Don’t force yourself to stay in uncomfortable weather. When it gets too warm, move indoors to cool down and drink more water. Your veins will thank you for taking care of them.
Another way to take care of your veins is to visit the best vascular physicians in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center. Treating your symptoms only goes so far, and it’s best to see specialists who can get rid of your varicose veins. Our team specializes in vein care and is dedicated to creating a treatment plan that works best for you. We perform minimally invasive procedures such as EVLT that will make you feel confident enough to wear those shorts in the summer. Call us today at 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 to schedule your appointment. Even after your appointment, keep these tips in mind so that your veins will stay healthy and happy during the summer.