In our part of the country, we are treated to year-round warmth. For the most part, we don’t spend the entire winter season covered in multiple heavy layers of clothing. Still, once the summer season gets into full swing, we may notice some varicose vein symptoms that weren’t so bad just a few months ago. Anyone who has these swollen veins can testify that they tend to react when things heat up. That may be a visit to a hot tub or day at the beach. Here, we discuss why and what you might do to end the cycle.
How Heat Affects Varicose Veins
Oxygenated blood travels from the heart to all parts of the body via the arteries. It travels back to the heart through the veins to receive another boost of oxygen. The veins assist with this return to the heart using a series of small valves that shut periodically. This keeps blood moving upward from the lower extremities. Sometimes, these valves get weak. This can happen when a person has a sedentary lifestyle or carries too much extra weight. Weak valves don’t close off well enough, so some blood pools. Eventually, the pooling blood causes the vein to swell. This is how varicose veins form. But why do the veins get more irritable when it’s hot out?
Varicose veins are stressed veins. Add heat to the scenario and that stress increases. When the body gets hot, the veins widen to allow more blood to flow superficially, near the skin. The body does this to cool off. However, when a vein already has too much blood in an area of distention, the extra surge is felt. The vein, which already isn’t working well, is being asked to work harder. This can result in cramping, swelling, and aching.
How to Manage Varicose Veins in Summer
The natural reaction to aching varicose veins may be to lie low. That’s not necessary. Some ways to manage these veins in summer include:
- Exercise. This isn’t counterproductive. Trust us. Activities that work the calf muscles can be especially helpful to manage vein health. Walking, swimming, biking, and just doing calf exercises helps support swollen veins and push blood upward.
- Reduce salt intake. Salt, which is in pretty much every packaged food, can cause water retention. Where there is water retention, there is swelling in the legs. This summer, reach for foods high in magnesium, like sweet potatoes and bananas. These have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Provide additional help. Weak veins need all the help they can get. One way to give them support is with compression stockings. We get it, though, who wants to wear long socks when it’s hot out? When this isn’t possible, the veins can be helped by elevating the feet after standing or sitting for a long while.
Avoiding the hassles of summer can be challenging for those with varicose veins. The best approach may be to have these veins treated. Dr. Lee offers several options to get rid of painful varicose veins. To explore what those are, call our Los Angeles area office at (818) 325-0400.