WINTER SAFETY & LYMPHEDEMA
Lymphedema can be easier to deal with in the cooler winter months. Compression garments are more comfortable in 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 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 much ice and snow. Walking can be a real challenge this time of year, mainly 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 hot and cold temperatures if you are dealing with lymphedema. Extreme temperatures can flare up lymphedema due to 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 ensure your clothing is not too tight or restrictive.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERDO IT!
Although exercising and getting out during the colder months is essential, please 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 and Instagram. You are not alone – over 10,000,000 people in the US 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 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, 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.