The heat causes lots of problems to the human body
Dehydration is not the only the thing that the sun can do to the human body. Swelling is a common side effect from the scorching heat.
Hot weather can cause fluid to build up around the feet and ankles, making them look swollen and puffy. While this issue can be uncomfortable or unsightly, it will go away as your body cools down.
Thankfully for sufferers, there are a few simple ways that you can reduce your chance of swelling in the summer heat, lead nutritionist Signe Svanfeldt has told the Express. He said: “Swollen feet and ankles due to hot weather is usually called heat edema, which is fluid ‘trapped’ in tissues which causes the swelling.
“Being swollen for a short period of time is likely not to cause any major health implications, but if you experience swelling for a long period of time it can be due to other reasons such as an underlying disease. In this case, it might be worth contacting your health care professional.”
Seven tips to avoid trapped fluid and swollen ankles
1. Skip the sunny beer garden and limit your alcohol consumption
An ice-cold alcoholic beverage is a favourite for many on a hot day, but it could make your swelling worse according to Svanfeldt.
Long-term alcoholics will often report swollen ankles, as their body’s difficulty processing alcohol leads to fluid retention in the legs and feet. In hot weather, this can make those who experience swelling more likely to retain fluids – so it might be best to stick to the soda water in hot weather.
This swelling should go down with your body temperature. However, if it remains for two days you should speak to your doctor.
2. Stay hydrated
Expert nutritionist Svanfelt said: “Even though the swollen feet are due to fluids that build up, drinking a sufficient amount of water can help prevent swelling.”
Drinking lots of fluids is crucial to replace the water lost in hot weather through sweat, and to regulate the levels of salt in your bloodstream.
Having high levels of salt in your blood from becoming dehydrated can cause your body to retain some of the water you drink, so it is important to keep drinking water regularly throughout the day. You should aim to drink roughly three litres of water throughout a warm day.
In a similar manner, it is best to avoid salty foods if you are prone to swelling. So hold back on the salt shaker when you get your fish and chips.
3. Avoid direct sunlight and stay in the shade
If you aren’t drinking in the sun, you might want to avoid the beer garden altogether, as direct sunlight and exposure to hot conditions are one of the primary causes of swollen legs and ankles.
If at all possible, stick to indoor shaded areas that are well-ventilated while at home or work.
This is not always possible and, on a 34C day, it is likely that most areas will become uncomfortably warm around midday. If you are struggling, try blasting your legs with cold water in the shower, or setting up an ice bucket for your feet – it might even be quite nice.
4. Put your feet up and keep active
There is not a great deal you can do to reduce the swelling, other than wait and put your feet up.
In the latter case, quite literally. Keeping your feet elevated higher than your heart can allow the excess fluid trapped in the tissue in your leg and feet to drain.
Remaining stood up for prolonged periods is also likely to exacerbate any trapped fluids. Svanfeldt advises keeping your foot elevated but regularly getting up and moving around.
She said: “Sitting for a long period of time can increase the risk of swollen feet and ankles.
“This can also occur if you’re standing still for a period of time, so increase the amount of movement in your daily life to increase the blood flow.”
5. Eat clean
In addition to cutting out salt and alcohol, if you frequently experience swelling in hotter weather, you might want to try a clean green diet as the days heat up.
In general, eating healthier will prevent your ankles from swelling, or swelling as much, as monitoring your calorific intake will lower your weight – one of the key pressure factors in fluid retention.
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of nutrient-rich foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, in line with your energy requirement, can help to maintain or reach a healthy weight.
Svandfeldt said: “If you’re unsure about how much energy is sufficient for you, the Lifesum app can help you to calculate your energy needs to ensure that you reach and stick to your daily requirements.”