Summer heat and varicose veins

22. August 2014

Varicose veins are not just a cosmetic problem – on the thighs and calves they can cause feelings of discomfort and fatigue in the legs and feet.

According to Veronika Palmiste, a vascular surgeon from the Surgery Clinic of East-Tallinn Central Hospital, the sun itself is fortunately not a cause of varicose veins, but it may be a disposing factor in the swelling of the feet.

Why do varicose veins occur?

According to Palmiste, varicose veins are mainly caused by an inherited disease characterised by the weakening of the connective tissue. “This means that a person has a congenital predisposition towards dilatation in the superficial venous system, which can develop throughout their life,” she explains. “The transition from predisposition to illness is facilitated by environmental factors as well as hormonal changes in the human body.” As it is a chronic disease with a hereditary predisposition, it cannot be cured. However, the symptoms can be kept under control with timely treatment.

Hot weather and sunshine

Varicose veins are just one of many reasons why your feet can sometimes become swollen. “A person who’s prone to getting swollen feet might notice increased swelling in specific conditions, summer heat among them,” says Palmiste. “People with varicose veins should be aware that the likelihood of experiencing subjective, inexplicable complaints around areas with varicose veins is higher as the weather gets hotter. It’s advisable for them to wear compression stockings.” She adds that she understands this can be easier said than done. Despite this, wearing the stockings is effective in both keeping the disease under control and correcting the associated oedema. “If you really can’t be doing with the stockings, try and alleviate the discomfort with position therapy – for example, try not to spend too much time sitting with your legs angled downwards,” Palmiste advises. The doctor also emphasises that bearing in mind the comorbid blood coagulation disorder it, is important to maintain a balance of fluids. “The more a person sweats, the more they should drink fluids,” she says.

How can problems be prevented?

  • If you don’t want to give up sunbathing, always keep your feet elevated while in the sun – roll up a towel or place your feet high up on a chair. This will prevent excessive venous blood flow to the feet.
  • While at the beach, don’t forget to cool your feet in the water now and then in order to reduce congestion in the enlarged parts of the veins.
  • Avoid sitting and standing in one spot for long periods. If this does occur, swing your legs up and down and stretch and bend your feet.
  • Be sure to stay active and exercise. Swimming, cycling and walking are good for improving blood flow and ensure the better functioning of the venous system in your legs.
  • Also, wear the compression stockings, knee socks or tights that your doctor recommends.

Source: Naised