In the hot days of summer, at high temperatures, the body reacts in different ways. In hot weather, some parts of the body retain excess water and swell. Under the effect of gravity, swelling is most obvious in the lower part of the legs: leg, ankle and foot. Even though this event is temporary, swollen feet can cause discomfort during summertime. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce this inconvenience.
Swollen feet, sole and ankle, without this being associated with pain, is called peripheral edema. When swelling occurs, especially in conditions of heat, it is called heat edema. This swelling occurs due to heat especially when blood vessels dilate, and the person concerned maintained positions of standing or sitting for long intervals. The result is fluid retention in the legs.
Peripheral edema is common and is often rather uncomfortable looking, but a serious health condition. Some people, such as elderly, pregnant women, the childbearing period, overweight, are more likely to experience this condition. They can take extra precautions to prevent swelling occurred during the summer.
To prevent swelling triggered by warm weather, try to avoid high temperatures, as much as possible. Maintaining low levels of body heat will reduce vasodilation, and by this way the feel pressure in the legs. Equally important is to avoid prolonged standing or sitting in the upright position. Immobility causes accumulation of fluid in the legs, ankles and feet. If a person needs to make a long trip by car, train or plane and has to stay a long time, sitting in the same position, it is important, when possible, to change its position or make short walks. If walking is not possible moving or elevating the feet from the ground a few inches is recommended.
Also, consumption of salt predisposes to water retention. Therefore the patient will limit the salt intake, especially in hot weather to maintain a healthy balance of body health.
Swollen feet can be reduced even by measures that can be applied at home.
As long standing is one of the causes that cause swelling in hot periods, avoiding it prevents swelling of the feet. Also, lifting feet off the ground counteracts the effects of gravity and fluid flow normalizes.
Exercise helps the heart to pump liquids that due to physical inactivity have accumulated in the lower limbs. Walking and other simple movements that are involving the legs can diminish swelling. Also, medical stockings with supportive role, can reduce the swollen feet symptoms.
Although edema is a common symptom, it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious condition.
A person should seek medical assistance when fever, swollen feet, oliguria (decreased amount of urine) occurs or suffered in the past or currently manifests a liver disease.
A pregnant woman should tell the doctor if sudden worsening of the feet edema occurs. In addition, everyone should seek emergency medical service if home measures do not suceed in reducing the swelling, especially if these events are associated with breathing difficulties or chest pain.
Peripheral edema is the result of abnormal fluid retention in tissues and leg muscles. Gravity naturally contributes to the concentration of water in the lower regions of the body and the standing position amplifies the effects of gravity, resulting in swollen legs, ankles and feet.
Edema can occur as a result of obstruction, injury or pressure on the existing capillaries, which forces the fluid to drain into the interstitial spaces – and the effect is swelling.
Chronic venous insufficiency. Normally, the heart pumps blood sufficient for major systems and cells of the body through arteries. In case of edema, insufficient blood is pumped from the extremities to the lungs and heart. To stimulate blood flow to the heart from the extremeties area, calf muscles and other muscles of the legs contract and push the blood up. In addition, leg veins are equipped with valves that open in one direction and which are designed to prevent backflow of blood that might occur due to gravity. Thus, blood flows in one direction: from the periphery to the heart. In the case of chronic venous insufficiency, the valves are damaged, allowing blood to flow back and accumulate in legs tissues. Swollen legs and ankles are the first signs of chronic venous insufficiency.
Congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure is a disease in which the heart muscles are weak, the heart being unable to effectively pump the blood amount that the body needs. The condition can be caused by a heart attack, damage to valves and other cardiovascular disorders, hypertension, inflammation of heart muscle, etc… Specific symptoms are legs, ankles and feet swelling, shortness of breath, fatigue and fast or irregular heartbeat.
Lymphedema. Lymphedema is a condition characterized by swelling of the hands and feet, caused by blockage or dysfunction of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and is composed of tissue, lymph nodes and lymph vessels.The lymphatic vessels collects lymph throughout the body and drains it into the circulatory system. Blockage in lymphatic drainage of lymph system dysfunction leads to lymph concentration in the interstitial space: the result is inflammation of the hands and feet.