WINTER SAFETY & LYMPHEDEMA
In the cooler winter months, lymphedema can be easier to deal with. Compression garments are more comfortable to wear in the cooler weather and swelling might not be as bad. Bug bites and sunburns are usually not an issue of concern, at least in the northern hemisphere. However, winter can present its own challenges. Here are just a few tips for winter safety and lymphedema.
WALKING SAFELY ON SNOW AND ICE
Here in the Chicago area, there has been a lot of ice and some snow. Walking can be a real challenge this time of year, particularly if you are dealing with lymphedema. Here are a few suggestions to make walking on snow and ice a bit safer:
- Wearing flat-soled shoes with good traction is the first and probably the most obvious suggestion.
- Use special care when getting in and out of vehicles, using stairs or entering buildings.
- Take short steps or shuffle if need be.
- Walk flat-footed with your center of gravity over your foot as much as possible.
- Keep hands free and out of your pockets.
- Be prepared to fall. If falling, attempt to roll your body into the fall.
AVOID EXTREME TEMPERATURE
You want to avoid extreme temperatures – both hot and cold – if you are dealing with lymphedema. Extreme temperatures can flare up lymphedema due to the changes in blood flow. However, if you do go out on colder days, be sure to dress warmly. You want to keep your body at a comfortable temperature. Layering clothing works best, and make sure that your clothing is not too tight or restrictive.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERDO IT!
Although it is important to exercise and get out during the colder months, don’t overdo it. Shoveling snow or participating in activities you are not used to can cause flare ups in your lymphedema. Listen to your body and know when enough is enough. Go slowly, take frequent breaks and allow time for recovery.
The seemingly endless, gray days of winter can be challenging for all of us. Even though it’s tempting to stay home and not engage, it can also affect our mental health. When possible, get outside – especially on sunny days. Nothing can brighten the spirit quicker than fresh air along with sunshine. If you are unable to get out, then reach out. No one to contact? Try social media. There are many lymphedema and lipedema groups on Facebook, as well as Instagram. You truly are not alone – over 10,000,000 people in the US alone have been diagnosed with lymphedema.
ENJOYING THE SEASON
Enjoy this beautiful season, but do so safely. Each season has its benefits as well as its challenges. Embrace the quiet stillness, the soft light and the wonder and magic of winter. Do you have any activities that you especially like to do this time of year? Any challenges that are especially hard during the winter? Any tips and tricks you’d like to share with this community?
Disclaimer: This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.