How to Protect Yourself From Heat Edema in the Summertime

By Liseia Parisian, Network Screening Integration Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan

According to the Cleveland Clinic, edema is a condition characterized by fluid being trapped in body tissues. There are many causes of edema, but heat edema is caused by extensive sitting or standing in hot weather. Heat makes the blood vessels dilate, and gravity causes body fluids to collect in various parts of the body. Edema is most common in the legs, feet, and ankles, but it can also affect other body parts.

Here are some risk factors, symptoms, and treatments for edema listed by the Cleveland Clinic.

Risk factors include:

  • Having an excess of salt in the body,
  • Being an older adult,
  • Having a medical condition that affects blood circulation, and
  • Being in a hot environment.

Symptoms include:

  • If your legs are swollen, you may have trouble walking,
  • After pushing on a swollen area, it leaves a dimple (indention) in the skin, and
  • Your skin may look shiny and stretched out.

Treatment includes:

  • Elevation: Keeping the swollen body part higher than the heart for periods several times throughout the day can help drain the fluid from the area. If possible, try sleeping with the body part in an elevated position.
  • Compression: Reach out to your healthcare provider about your condition and ask if it is safe to wear compression gloves, stockings, or sleeves to increase circulation in limbs to prevent fluid build-up.
  • Exercise: Moving around and exercising the muscles in the edema can help move the excess fluid back to the heart. Make sure you get permission from your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.
  • Diet: Discuss with your healthcare provider how to use your diet to help reduce edema as having too much salt can make the edema worse. 

With these tips and the guidance of your healthcare provider, you should be able to prevent or manage heat edema effectively and enjoy the summer heat safely! 

Liseia Parisian is a Screening Integration Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since March 2020. As a Screening Integration Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan, Liseia advocates for seniors and those with disabilities, helping them locate services to increase their quality of life by making sure they have access to food, housing, and healthcare.