Are varicose veins worse in summer?
It's that time of year again and the summer holidays are well and truly underway. Nevertheless, while most of us spend the year looking forward to a long-awaited summer getaway, people with varicose veins can experience the sunny season in a very different way.
Let's start with that hard-earned summer vacation—chances are you've booked a week or more by the lakeside or seaside to relax on a beach somewhere warm.
However, the higher temperatures of summer can present a problem. Heat can sometimes exaggerate your symptoms—you're more likely to experience heavy legs and swelling if you're spending time in the summer sun. And that's just the increase in temperature. Travelling itself can be difficult, as long-haul flights mean spending a lot of time sitting down, unable to stretch your legs or stimulate your circulation.
Add to this the increased risk of dehydration and the social pressure to bare your legs on the beach, and it's no wonder that varicose vein sufferers often feel so unhappy during the summer months!
How can I cope with varicose veins in summer?
It can be very lonely if your entire family is gearing up for the big vacation and you're feeling anything but excited. But there's no reason why you can't make the most of your summer holidays too! Below I've highlighted some of my top tips for coping with symptoms all summer long!
Preparation is key
If you're travelling abroad to seek out the summer sun, then the plane journey is likely your first source of worry. After all, you probably know all about the dangers of remaining sedentary for too long and how that can affect your symptoms. So how are you supposed to cope on a long-haul flight? I've covered this issue before in my blog 5 tips to avoid heavy legs on a plane, where I discussed a couple of tips you can follow to try and keep your circulatory system going while flying.
First of all, if you can, consider paying a little extra for more leg room—this can make a real difference and enable you to perform a few simple exercises that can help get your blood flowing properly. Once you've done this, make sure you're wearing comfortable clothing for the duration of the flight—no skinny jeans please!
You might also consider remedies for varicose veins, and don't forget to pack them! Make sure you take along some of our Venaforce gel, a lovely soothing formula specially formulated for tired, heavy legs. Containing extracts of horse chestnut seeds, it works by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation. Perfect for travel, you can also use it in addition to our Venaforce Horse Chestnut Tablets!
Also be prepared to board the plane with a few bottles of water—you'll have to buy them at the gift shop once you've cleared the security checkpoint—as hydration is absolutely pivotal to keeping your symptoms under control, which brings me to my next point...
Drink, drink, drink!
Yes, I know, you've probably heard this mantra a gazillion times before, but drinking plenty of water really is that important, especially in summer when you naturally perspire more.
You'll probably also find yourself in more social situations while on vacation, whether you're having a staycation or travelling abroad, so I won't say that you should boycott alcohol completely, but consider the inflammatory affect it can have on your body and try to moderate your intake.
Consider your clothes
It's the middle of summer and it seems as though everyone around you is wearing shorts, skirts and summer dresses. You, however, may have some reservations about baring your legs in public, which is understandable.
Having varicose veins doesn't just manifest physical symptoms—many find that their self-esteem and confidence starts to dwindle too. Unsightly, bulging blue-red veins can make you unwilling to expose your legs, and while this isn't a problem in winter, in summer it can be a real trial.
I wouldn't recommend imprisoning your legs in skin-tight skinny jeans though. Tight clothing will only restrict your circulation even further and make the problem worse. Instead, why not consider a nice maxi dress or cargo shorts?
These types of clothing are normally very loose and light, allowing your skin to breathe while giving your legs some relief. They also protect your skin from the sun, and trust me when I say that nothing will upset your varicose veins quite like a bad sunburn!
If you usually wear compression stockings, you don't have to fret either! You can get compression stockings that are discreet and easy to disguise, especially if you're wearing longer skirts!
Remember your sunscreen!
A sunburn on its own won't cause varicose veins, but it can seriously damage your skin and affect the tiny blood vessels beneath the skin's surface, giving rise to the appearance of spider veins. However, what sunburn will do is naturally increase the temperature of your skin and dilate your blood vessels. As we've already discussed, heat is bad news for varicose veins, and sunburn carries an additional risk of added inflammation.
Your body will perceive that a part of your skin has been damaged and, in its haste to get blood and nutrients to the affected area, will trigger an inflammatory immune response. Not only will this enlarge your veins, but it will also flood your system with inflammatory chemicals and upset your symptoms, perhaps even causing unwanted pain and discomfort.
Please be kind to yourself and remember to reapply sunscreen often, making sure to use the right SPF for the weather you're experiencing. If you can, try to relax in the shade at regular intervals and if you decide to go swimming, apply sunscreen before and after entering the pool!
Think about your diet
It can be difficult to resist temptation at the best of times, but if you're on vacation you may abandon your usual diet in favour of a more relaxed approach. I'm not about to deny you a scoop of gelato or some tiramisu, but I would like you to remember one important word: moderation.
There's nothing wrong with having the odd treat, but try not to overdo it. Instead, take advantage of all the wonderful fruit that's in season! Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, bananas and watermelon—all are naturally rich in nutrients such as vitamin C or minerals like potassium. And they're all excellent for warding off inflammation and nourishing your circulatory system!
So instead of having ice cream every day, make a fruit salad or whip up a deliciously refreshing smoothie. I've listed some of my personal favourites below, but if you want to learn more about what to eat to support your circulatory system, check out my blog called 10 superfoods to support good circulation.
Get your blood pumping
It's summer, so why not try to make the most of the good weather by exercising outside? Just a brisk 10 minute walk each afternoon can make a real difference to your circulatory health, not to mention the other health benefits that being outdoors can bring!
You could even try other forms of exercise that you may not have considered during the bleaker winter months, such as cycling! It's a great way of exploring your surroundings and it can really help boost your cardio while increasing your overall health and fitness.
Or, if cycling doesn't excite you, why not try a team sport such as tennis? Invite a friend and make an afternoon of it on your local outdoor tennis court. Or, alternatively, cool down by hitting your local swimming pool!
Anything that gets your heart pumping and your blood racing is a step in the right direction!