Hot weather and summertime vacation – the most enjoyable time of the year for many, and a painful season for the unfortunate with varicose and spider veins. There are many factors that cause varicose veins to develop or worsen, and if you suffer from these vein-related disorders, heat will always be your enemy.
Varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency now bother up to 40 million Americans, making it one of the most common chronic conditions in North America. Most vein-related disorders, including varicose veins are related to non-functioning vein valves. Vein valves need to be healthy and function properly because they allow blood to flow from the legs toward the heart against gravity, preventing venous reflux (reverse flow). If the valves are damaged or the vein wall is too weak, the blood pools in the legs, which results in formation of varicose veins or their enlargement. Consequently, this leads to various bothersome symptoms, such as heavy, tired and sore legs, swollen ankles, night cramps, fatigue, itching or discoloration.
Throughout summer time and high temperatures, all these symptoms get even worse, mainly because:
- Any kind of heat (that means even taking a hot bath) causes the veins to dilate, and if you already have even slightly dysfunctional valves, the dilation is going to break all hell loose. More dilated veins means more blood pooling in your ankles and calves, resulting in even heavier and more swollen legs than before.
- UV rays emitted by the sun have a negative effect on the upper layers of your skin, mostly by dehydrating it. As a result, your skin loses elasticity which can eventually agitate the existing varicose veins.
To sum it up, you don’t have to lock yourself up at home throughout the entire summer or only spend your vacations in Alaska, but if you suffer from even a mild chronic venous insufficiency or varicose veins, you need to be more careful during hot days and take as many precautions as possible to avoid pain and swelling:
- Stay hydrated
- If it’s possible, wear compression stockings
- Sunbathe in moderation and always use sunscreen
- Regularly cool your legs in cold water
- Elevate your legs as much as possible