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 that long sought after summer getaway, sufferers of varicose veins can have a very different experience of this season.
Let’s start with that hard earned summer holiday – the chances are you’ve booked a week away to relax on a beach somewhere warm in Europe. I can’t say I blame you, especially since sunshine is a very limited resource here in the UK.
However, this increase in temperature can present a problem. Heat can sometimes exaggerate your symptoms – you’re more likely to experience heavy legs and swelling if you are spending time in the summer sun. If you want to know more, check out my blog, can heat make varicose veins worse?
And that’s just the increase in temperature. Travelling itself can be difficult as long-haul flights mean you will spend a lot of time sitting down, unable to stretch your legs or stimulate your circulation.
Add to this the increase risk of dehydration and the 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 do I cope with varicose veins in summer?
It can be very lonely if you’re entire family is gearing up for their annual holiday and you’re feeling anything but excited. However, there’s no reason why you can’t make the most out of your summer holiday too! Below I’ve highlighted some of my top tips to enable you to cope with your symptoms during the summer season!
Preparation is key
If you are 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 meant to cope on a long-haul flight?
I have covered this issue before in my blog flying with varicose veins, where I discussed a couple of tips you can follow to try and keep your circulatory system going whilst flying.
Firstly, don’t be afraid to pay a little extra for more leg room – this can make a real difference and will enable you to perform a few simple exercises that can help to get your blood flowing properly. Once you’ve done this, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing for the duration of the flight – no skinny jeans please!
You could also think about your remedies for varicose veins – don’t leave these behind at home! Make sure you pack some of our Venagel, a lovely soothing formula specifically aimed at targeting 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 too!
Also be prepared to go on board with a few bottles of water – 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 half a hundred times before but drinking plenty of water really is that important. Especially during summer, when you will naturally perspire a little bit more.
It’s also possible that you may be losing valuable electrolytes through sweat too, so I’d recommend trying to replenish these vital nutrients. Our Balance Mineral Drink is rich in fluid-retaining electrolytes and trace minerals. Simply mix one sachet with a little water and you instantly have a mineral-rich, strawberry-flavoured drink that’s excellent for combatting fatigue. You could even try indulging in coconut water, a lovely natural alternative to water that’s also full of electrolytes and minerals!
Of course you will naturally be in more social environments on holiday, whether you’re at home or abroad, so I won’t say boycott alcohol completely, but please be mindful about the inflammatory affect that it can have on your body, and try to moderate your intake.
Consider your clothes
It’s the middle of summer and around you other people are indulging in shorts, skirts and summer dresses. You, however, may have some reservations about baring your own legs in public and this is understandable.
Having varicose veins doesn’t just manifest physical symptoms – many find that their self-esteem and confidence starts to dwindle too. The unsightly, bulging blue-red veins can make you unwilling to show-off your legs and during winter this might not be a problem, but during 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 breath whilst giving your legs some relief. They also protect your skin from sunburn – and trust me, nothing will upset your varicose veins quite like a bad dose of 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 are wearing longer skirts!
Sunburn on its own cannot cause varicose veins, although it can seriously damage your skin which will 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.1As we have already discussed, heat is not good news for your varicose veins, but sunburn also 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 instigate an inflammatory immune response. Not only will this enlarge your veins, 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 suncream regularly, making sure you have the right factor for the weather you are experiencing. If you can, try to relax in the shade at regular intervals and if you decide to go swimming, apply suncream 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 holiday you may abandon you usual diet in favour of a more relaxed approach. I’m not about to deny you a scoop of gelato or a tiramisu, but the important word I would like you to remember is moderation.
There’s nothing wrong with having the odd treat but try to make sure you don’t overdo it. Instead, why not take advantage of all the lovely fruit that will now be in season? Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, bananas and watermelon– all of these are naturally rich in nutrients such as vitamin C or minerals like potassium. Excellent for warding off inflammation and nourishing your circulatory system!
So instead of having ice cream every day, whip up a fruit salad or blitz 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 on 10 superfoods to support good circulation.
Watermelon, Mint & Lime Cooler
Molkosan Fruit Smoothie
Hayfever Blasting Smoothie
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 to boost your cardio and increase your overall health and fitness.
Or, if cycling doesn’t excite you, why not a team sport such as tennis? Invite a friend and make an afternoon of it at 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!