Summer heat and varicose veins


The heat of summer signals a time for fun in the sun. But for those with varicose veins, the heat can be quite uncomfortable, especially when humidity levels rise.

Summer heat can cause veins to expand and swell as the body retains fluid, causing an increase in pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins. For some, the swelling causes veins to appear larger.

During the summer months, it is as important to hydrate and stay cool. The type of beverages consumed make a difference. Iced tea, cold brew coffee drinks and smoothies are refreshing but the body needs water. Keep in mind that caffeine, sugar and alcohol dehydrate the body.

On hot days, remain in air-conditioned spaces or seek shaded areas when outside. In Southern California it is difficult to stay out of the sun, so pay attention to wearing light clothing and a hat.

Sunscreen is a summer essential for those managing varicose veins. A sunburn increases the skin’s temperature and dilates blood vessels. Because the body responds as if the skin has been damaged, there is an inflammatory response. As a result, the veins expand, and the symptoms of varicose veins become more pronounced.

Swimming in a cool pool can feel good and reduce swelling. The best time of day to be in the pool is early in the day or after 5 p.m. when the sun is less intense. A cold shower or cool bath will have a similar effect. Stay out of the hot tub; the heated water temperature is not good for the venous system.

What you eat matters too. Your diet affects your circulatory system and varicose veins. Stock up on a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available in an abundance at the grocery store as well as local farmer’s markets. Some great choices are:

· Watermelon and tomatoes – high in lycopene and are known to improve circulation and reduce the risk of developing many health conditions.

· Bell peppers – high in vitamin C. Peppers also have collagen and elastin, which are essential to vein health.

· Berries – high in vitamin C, which promotes building strong veins and improves circulation.

· Avocados – high in vitamin E, which aids in preventing blood platelets from sticking together.

In addition to diet, exercise minimizes the symptoms of varicose veins, including aching, throbbing, itching, heaviness and leg fatigue. A short 10- or 15-minute walk can have a positive impact on your circulatory health and reduce symptoms. Traditional summer sports such as swimming, tennis and cycling are good choices for exercise.

There is no need for varicose veins to get in the way of taking full advantage of the carefree months of summer. Modern treatments are effective, quick and minimally invasive.

Improving the symptoms of varicose veins begins with a consultation to determine the right plan for you. Dr. Van Cheng of the San Diego Vein Institute is a Harvard University educated medical doctor who specializes in treating venous concerns. Dr. Cheng is located at 336 Encinitas Boulevard, Suite 130, Encinitas, CA 92024. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (760) 944-9263 or visit