If you’re experiencing foot swelling or swollen ankles or legs in warmer weather, you’re not alone. But does humidity cause swelling?
Heat and high humidity can cause swelling and weight gain, as hot temperatures cause the blood vessels to dilate, moving fluid into the legs and hands due to gravity. This swelling and weight gain is called heat edema and is quite common during the summer months.
It’s frustrating when your feet and hands are constantly swollen in the summer heat, especially when you’re trying to enjoy all the activities that come with the season. You might feel like you can’t do anything because your hands and feet are so swollen, and it’s hard to focus on anything else when you’re uncomfortable.
Does Humidity Cause Swelling?
There are a few factors that can contribute to fluid retention when it’s hot outside. One is that the body perspires more in order to regulate its temperature, and this can lead to dehydration which can in turn cause the body to hold onto fluids.
Another possible reason is that salt intake can cause the body to retain water in order to maintain a balance. Additionally, certain medications can have side effects that include fluid retention.
Finally, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can also be a factor, as the hormones associated with PMS can cause fluid retention.
By understanding the various causes of fluid retention, you can take steps to prevent it from happening.
What is Heat Edema?
Heat edema is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the lower extremities and is most likely to occur during hot weather or after standing for long periods of time. The most common cause of heat edema is exposure to warm temperatures, which is why it’s often seen during the summer months.
Other causes include certain medications (such as steroids), pregnancy, and malnutrition. In most cases, heat edema is not serious and will resolve on its own once the underlying cause is resolved.
Treatment for heat edema usually involves elevating the affected limb and applying cool compresses to help reduce swelling.
If the edema is severe or does not improve with home treatment, you should see your doctor.
Heat Edema Symptoms
The symptoms of heat edema include but are not limited to the following:
- Puffiness or swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, or hands.
- Tightness in your skin.
- Pain or cramping in your legs.
- Difficulty moving the affected limb.
Heat edema usually goes away on its own within a few days, but you can help relieve the symptoms by elevating your legs and wearing loose-fitting clothes.
If you have diabetes or another condition that affects your circulation, you may be at risk for more serious complications from heat edema.
See your doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms: fever, redness or warmth in the affected area, increased pain or cramping, or calf pain when walking.
In severe cases, you may need to take diuretics (water pills) to help remove excess fluid from your body.
Treatment for heat edema typically involves elevating the affected limb and wearing compression socks.
In severe cases, diuretics may be prescribed to help reduce fluid buildup.
How Long Does Heat Edema Last?
In most cases, heat edema will resolve itself within a few days as the affected person acclimates to the warmer temperatures. However, there are some instances where the swelling may last for a week or more.
If the edema is accompanied by pain, redness, or numbness, it may be indicative of a more serious condition and medical attention should be sought.
Generally speaking, however, heat edema is a harmless condition that will go away on its own in a short period of time.
What Helps Heat Edema?
Treatment for heat edema typically involves elevating the affected limbs and applying ice packs to reduce swelling. In severe cases, diuretics may be prescribed to help remove excess fluid from the body. By taking these precautions, people can minimize their risk of developing heat edema.
Is Heat Edema Dangerous?
While heat edema isn’t usually dangerous, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If you experience sudden swelling in your feet or ankles, seek medical attention. Heat edema is the swelling of your extremities due to exposure to heat.
The condition is usually harmless and goes away on its own within a few days.
However, if you have diabetes or another medical condition that causes poor circulation, you’re at risk for more serious complications from heat edema.
See your doctor if you have heat edema and are experiencing pain, redness, or warmth in your affected limb.
Treatment for heat edema includes elevation and cooling of the affected area. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to reduce swelling.
In severe cases, they may recommend surgery to remove excess fluid from your tissues.
How to Prevent Heat Edema?
There are several things you can do to help prevent and alleviate the occurrence of heat edema.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
- Reduce your intake of salty foods.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages.
- Be sure to wear loose, comfortable clothing when it’s hot outside.
- Avoid being in direct sunlight for long periods of time.
- If you must be in the sun, wear a hat or use an umbrella for shade.
- Take a cool shower or bath.
- Use a cool compress on your affected limbs.
- Rest with your legs elevated above your heart level to encourage blood flow, returning fluid to your blood vessels.
- Wear suppression socks or supportive garments.
Drink 8-10 glasses of plain water daily and eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
If you are susceptible to heat edema, take extra precautions during hot weather conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
How to Stop Bloating in Hot Weather
To stop bloating in hot weather and high humidity, avoid eating high-sodium foods and high-fat foods. Drink plenty of fluids, especially plain water, and avoid carbonated beverages. Exercise regularly and try to stay cool by wearing loose-fitting clothing and staying out of the heat as much as possible.
If you are still experiencing bloating, talk to your doctor about medication or other treatments that may be available.
Humidity and Weight Gain
Heat and humidity can cause water retention, which can lead to weight gain. When the body is exposed to high temperatures, it tries to cool itself by sweating. However, when the air is humid, sweat does not evaporate as quickly, which can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration causes the body to hold onto water, leading to bloating and water weight gain.
In addition, when the body is dehydrated, it may release hormones that trigger hunger, causing people to eat more than they would normally.
Therefore, exposure to heat and humidity can lead to both dehydration and increased appetite, both of which can contribute to weight gain.
We’ve learned that when it’s hot outside, heat edema can occur, most often in the feet and ankles. This is a common condition, especially in the summer months when the weather is hot and humid.
Treatment includes avoiding salty foods, elevating the legs, wearing supportive stockings, and drinking plenty of fluids.
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those interested in the air quality in and around their homes. Trina writes content about things she’s passionate about, such as safe, in-home air, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.