Effects of the Summer Heat

Increased swelling is a problem. Why?

* It is to do with the body's mechanism for controlling body temperature. In the Winter, the blood vessels beneath the skin constrict to keep in the heat. The reverse happens in Summer, the veins dilate to cool the body down so more fluid escapes into the tissues of the body. Although this is when you will least want to wear your sleeve or stocking, it is when you most need to.

* Overactivity causes more blood to flow through the limb and consequently more fluid forms in the tissues.

Combined, the effect can be a real problem. What can we do? The following are hints to help us cope during the Summer:

* Keep the limb as cool as possible to help us cope during Summer.

* Swim to refresh the body but replace sleeve as soon as possible and avoid exposing the limb to the sun.

* Have a cool spot where you can retreat and relax in the heat of the day, i.e. under the house, air-conditioned room or house, shady tree etc.

* Rise early in the day and do chores and make appointments early so that you can relax in the heat of the day. Elevate the limb while resting.

* Minimise the heat in the kitchen in the hot afternoons by using a microwave or cooking early in the day or serve salads. Avoid spicy foods which produce heat in the body.

* Avoid hot cars. Park in the shade, shop where undercover parking is available, get car air conditioned. Take air conditioned transport to destination, leaving the car in the shade elsewhere. Cars can get up to 60 degrees C or more.

* Wear loose fitting clothing which is cooler. Long loose trousers and sleeves allow more evaporation from the skin and protect from the sun. Avoid tight underclothing as it can restrict flow of lymph.

* Shower temperature should be cool, not hot. Shower before bandaging at night and at the start of the day before putting garment on. You will feel fresher for the task. The limb should be perfectly dry. Sit in front of a fan when putting garments on.

* Wear absorbent socks especially with joggers to soak up perspiration. Change daily. Socks should not have tight bands. Circulation socks from Red Robin are double souled, absorbent and comfortable. Male and female sizes available $12 from major retailers.