Summer has much to offer, but let’s face it –– hot weather can be uncomfortable. Whether we feel lethargic from heat or drenched in sweat, summertime leaves many of us longing for cooler temperatures. If you suffer from varicose veins, things may be even worse for you. When temperatures heat up, many with poor vein health experience increased symptoms like leg swelling and cramping.
Not surprisingly, hot weather is not the only heat source that can lead to problems. Some people mistakenly believe that hot baths, hot tubs, saunas, heating pads, and hot water bottles can bring relief to vein pain and discomfort. However, the opposite is true. Although heat therapy can be used to alleviate sore muscles, it can actually worsen your venous issues.
The bottom line on heat and varicose veins? Heat doesn’t cause varicose veins, but it sure can make your vein symptoms worse. If you are suffering from varicose veins, we want you to know that our vein specialists are available to help.
Below, we answer some common questions about heat and varicose veins. Does heat affect varicose veins? Does heat make veins pop out? Does heat help varicose veins? Then, we discuss a range of ways to help maximize your comfort this summer when temperatures begin to rise.
What Impact Does Heat Have on My Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are signs of underlying vein disease, or venous insufficiency. This condition can develop when veins are placed under strain. Both genetic and lifestyle influences can contribute to this situation. When vein disease is present, tiny vein valves malfunction and cause blood to pool in different areas of the body. Most frequently, the legs, ankles, and feet are impacted. When veins begin to swell as the result of this pooled blood, varicose veins can form.
Any time your veins aren’t working properly, painful or uncomfortable venous symptoms can occur. Vein disease is considered a progressive disease, meaning symptoms get worse over time. During summer weather, increased warmth causes your veins to further dilate (widen) and fill with even more blood. This means your veins need to work harder than normal to circulate blood back to your heart.
Having vein disease places you at increased risk for developing a number of potentially dangerous health conditions. These include the development of serious blood clots and venous ulcers. One type of blood clot, known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), is considered a medical emergency and can be life-threatening.
Fortunately, lifestyle factors like maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) and exercising regularly can help lower your risks. Vein treatment can also help alleviate symptomatic varicose veins.
Does Heat Help My Varicose Veins?
Because this is a common question, we want to be very clear with our response. Heat can cause veins to expand further and increase your pain and discomfort. It can also make unsightly veins appear visibly worse by causing them to further pop out above the skin’s surface.
That said, there are plenty of things you can do to feel better when it’s hot. Our vein experts recommend the following:
- Stay cool: Although at times this may be easier said than done, we encourage you to avoid heat whenever possible. During hot weather, try to remain inside and use a fan or air conditioning. If you do end up outdoors, try to stay in the shade. If you have access to a pool, take (short!) dips to cool down and don’t go in the hot tub. You can also take cold showers and apply cooling towels to your sore, swollen legs.
- Avoid the sun: Along with causing high temperatures, the sun can damage your skin and impact your veins. We suggest limiting sun exposure by wearing sunscreen, covering up with protective clothing, and reducing outdoor activities. When heading outside, stick to early morning or evening hours.
- Drink water: Being well-hydrated can help reduce the type of swelling and cramping associated with varicose veins. We recommend avoiding beverages that are high in added sugars or contain alcohol.
- Exercise: One of the best ways to get your blood moving is to exercise. Regular physical activity promotes better blood circulation and can bring symptomatic relief to pain. Our experts suggest pursuing moderate activities for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. It is also important to avoid long periods of sitting or standing. If your job requires either, take frequent breaks to move around throughout the day.
- Eat right: Instead of mindlessly snacking on unhealthy foods, reach for healthier options instead. Focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. A healthy diet can help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, manage your weight, and improve overall vein health.
- Put your feet up: This position encourages blood from your lower extremities to flow back to your heart. As a result, elevating your legs can alleviate pain and swelling. You can reap the benefits by lying flat on your back and propping your feet up on several pillows.
- Use compression: While wearing compression socks may initially sound hot and uncomfortable, they can bring relief to painful leg symptoms. Ask your doctor whether this option is right for you. They can prescribe the right size and level of compression.
- Consider vein treatment: Sometimes, lifestyle changes like those listed above aren’t enough to manage symptoms and keep things from getting worse. That’s where vein treatment comes in. Numerous minimally-invasive vein treatment options are available to alleviate your symptoms and quickly improve your quality of life.
Discover Symptomatic Relief at USA Vein Clinics
The most important thing to know about heat and varicose veins is that there’s no need to suffer any longer. With summer right around the corner, now is the perfect time to take action.
At USA Vein Clinics, we offer minimally-invasive, office-based vein treatments that close off malfunctioning veins and reroutes blood flow. In most cases, our state-of-the-art treatments can be performed during a lunch hour and require little to no downtime. You can leave immediately afterward and return to most normal activities.
To learn more, schedule an appointment online today. We offer you a choice of an in-person or telemedicine consultation. Our 90 treatment clinics are conveniently located across the country, so vein treatment is never far away. Wherever you choose to schedule your initial visit, we look forward to helping you take back control of your life!