Heat Wave: Why do Feet Swell in Warm Weather?

Do your shoes feel tight when the weather gets warmer?  It could be that you, like many others, are suffering from heat edema.  This condition can shows drastically as swelling and tightness of skin on the feet, ankles and legs; although it’s temporary, it can be an alarming and uncomfortable sensation.

Foot swelling, or swelling of other body parts, is the result of transient peripheral vasodilation, which is caused by the heat as well as from orthostatic pooling, which occurs when a person stands or sits too long. Put in layman’s terms, accumulating fluid is being pulled by gravity to your lowest extremities.

Heat makes your blood vessels dilate (expand). Body fluids then move to your legs, feet and hands via gravity. According to Dr. Anthony Weinert, if the salt balance in your body is off, this can increase the risk of heat edema. If your salt loss is less than what it should be, the excessive salt level will draw fluid into your extremities. If you are elderly, you are more at risk for experiencing heat edema because you may have other physical problems that have affected your circulatory system.

Dr. Weinert notes that heat usually exacerbates other foot conditions as well. Feet are usually stuck inside of shoes so perspiration is a big factor. Skin can get soggy and unhealthy when it reabsorbs moisture. The risk of developing blisters and being targeted by microbes is great because of this environment. Heat also makes friction worse, which can contribute to the development of calluses, eczema and psoriasis.

One of the easiest ways to relieve edema is by simply getting off your feet and keeping them elevated. Additionally, brief exercise and walking can ease the swelling, as can support stocking.  As always, if it’s hot, make sure that you wash your feet daily and dry them carefully, especially in between the toes. Be sure to stay hydrated but don’t drink too much because this will promote swelling. Wear shoes that let your feet breathe, including open-toe styles or sandals. Change your shoes and socks frequently. Consider using a foot powder to keep your feet dry. 

Do your feet sizzle when the summer heats up?  ?  If so, contact Dr. Weinert’s office in Troy at 248-362-3338 or his Warren office at 586-751-3338.  You can also get more information on his website at www.stopfeetpainfast.com, where you can also request a copy of his FREE book Stop Feet Pain Fast.



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