• Jeanine Mewburn

Is heat affecting lymphoedema?

Some days in the last few weeks were feeling like summer weather. The temperature was hovering in the 30 degrees and the humidity was high. The high humidity in the atmosphere, which is the weight of the air on the body, causes a low atmospheric pressure and swelling even in the population without lymphoedema and make you feel tired and lethargic. The heat has a vasodilating effect on the blood vessels, meaning that the blood vessels dilate allowing more fluid to leak in the tissue. These two summery factors can impact lymphoedema, making it difficult to manage it. Many people notice an increase in swelling.

You may have lymphoedema but you still want to enjoy summer, so you take some precautions and revisit your daily habits. Your lifestyle does not have to change drastically. Awareness is the name of the game. Many advice are common sense that most people could take on board to enjoy life to the fullest.

I had the opportunity to be part of a medical team running 10-days programs for weight loss and detox a few years back. I often heard participants mentioning that they had forgotten what it was to feel good within themselves after years of ignoring their health while looking after the family, working, and developing a business. They were promising themselves to keep on track with a better diet and more physical activities. The brainchild of this program used to say: "My body is my temple" and everyone, lymphoedema or not, could say the same.

Most people could avoid food rich in fat, salt and sugar and eat more fruit and salads, and avoid drinking alcohol because it is a vasodilator with a high sugar content. Grains, for many people can cause bloating and fluid retention. Get in the habit to drink a glass of water after each cup of coffee or limit its consumption because coffee is a diuretic. Generally, we need to drink plenty of water during the day to stay hydrated.

With lymphoedema, you need to adapt your lifestyle maybe limiting the time in the sun. Duck in and out of air conditioning when possible to keep the body temperature down or lightly spray cool water on your garment. Wearing your compression garment is important. You can exercise indoor, go to the gym or walk around a shopping center early in the morning before the crowd. Wear sunscreen and insect repellent for outdoor activities. Sunburn is painful and can contribute to skin cancer and lymphoedema. It may be time to add a covered area in your backyard, use a parasol on the beach, wear your hat or hold an umbrella when walking. Keep positive and look around you for what could improve your lifestyle. You could check that you have an up to date first aid kit with disinfectant in your home and your car and take it with you wherever you go to address any skin scratches immediately to avoid infection. I could go on with a multitude of advice but I am sure that common sense would prevail. You don’t have to complicate your life.

"Slip, slop, slap and don’t forget to wrap" - let's go for a run, let's go to the beach and the park to play. Enjoy summer "y viva la vida loca".






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