DOG DAYS OF SUMMER AND LYMPHEDEMA
We are now heading into the “dog days of summer,” commonly described as the most oppressive period of summer heat. Summer and hot, humid weather can be a challenge for all of us, especially those with lymphedema. However, being aware of the complications presented by these warmer months can help prevent further issues and difficulties when living with lymphedema.
WHY WARM WEATHER AFFECTS LYMPHEDEMA
When the temperatures soar, those living with lymphedema can have a tough time with the heat. Blood vessels expand with heat, causing the amount of fluid that travels out of the blood vessel and into the tissue to increase. With a compromised lymphatic system, the fluid does not always return like it should to the lymph system. This can result in further swelling and edema.
Staying out of the heat is not always an option; we still want to enjoy our summer. So here are some tips and tricks to help best enjoy the dog days of summer while taking care of your lymphatic system.
TIPS AND TRICKS TO KEEP IT COOL
- Avoid the hottest part of the day, usually between 11 am and 3 pm. If you have to be out, try to avoid prolonged exposure.
- Indoors, try to stay in a well-air-conditioned environment.
- Drink plenty of water because staying hydrated helps to regulate your body temperature.
- Non-restrictive, loose, and light clothing creates better lymphatic flow. It also will keep you cooler and allow your body to breathe.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure, and wear sunscreen when venturing outside.
- Don’t get sunburned. Sunburns can increase swelling as well as trigger an infection. Remember, you can still get sunburn through your compression garment, so wear sunscreen, even undergarments.
- Avoid salty foods, which can cause you to retain fluid and increase swelling.
- Minimize diuretics like alcohol and coffee, which can dehydrate you, especially in the heat.
- Fungal infections are more common in summer, with more time spent in the water and with bare feet. This can cause complications that are uncomfortable for those living with lymphedema. Wear protective footwear when not in the pool, especially in public showers.
- When swimming, be aware that chlorine can be incredibly drying to the skin. This may cause the skin to crack and break, leaving you vulnerable to bacteria and infection. Shower after you swim, and dry off completely before putting compression garments on.
- If you do get overheated, elevate your limb. You can also place a cold, wet towel over the affected limb. Elevation helps fluids move back toward your heart.
- Always wear insect repellent outside because a bite on the affected limb can cause additional problems. Avoice products with DEET, however. Check into products at the health food store for natural repellents.
- Even though it’s tempting not to wear your compression garments in warm weather, this isn’t a good idea. It’s essential to protect your affected limb. Your compression garments are one of your best tools for this. So take good care of your garments and replace them when needed.
ENJOYING THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER
The next few months can be challenging with the heat and humidity. I know the older I get, the less tolerant I seem to be of the heat. But, with an end, our summer was happy and safe with some care and attention. Wishing you all good health as we head into the dog days of summer
Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.