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What can we do when our legs swell from the heat?

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One of the main problems that women especially suffer from the increase in temperatures is swelling of the legs. Vasodilation appears, which also occurs in people who stand for a long time, sit in the same place or are subjected to frequent changes in atmospheric pressure.

Vasodilation decreases the speed of venous return and therefore liquids accumulate, mainly in the ankles, calves, throughout the leg and even in the abdomen. This retention or decrease in circulatory traffic can cause a edema.

The legs widen and there is pain, itching, a feeling of heaviness, fatigue and difficulty in movement.


Not all people are equally sensitive and equally predisposed to suffering from this problem. In any case, these are the main causes:

  • Hereditary factors of the person’s own constitution. It is known, for example, that there are areas where this problem is more common, even if it is not very hot.
  • Venous insufficiency, capillary fragility.
  • Passage of time, venous aging.
  • Overweight.
  • Frequent changes in atmospheric pressure (frequent flights, stewardesses…).
  • Postural. Spending a long time with your legs without moving and crossed or bent, such as telephone operators, computer technicians, or simply many hours on a plane without moving.
  • A sedentary lifestyle and little exercise also slow down venous return.
  • Pregnancy, the pressure of the increased size of the belly puts pressure on the veins and makes venous return difficult.
  • Thrombosis due to clots.
  • Leg infections, bursitis.
  • When the joint remains immobilized due to trauma or another problem, bone breaks.
  • Hormonal drugs, such as contraceptives, steroid drugs, antihypertensives (calcium channel blockers, nifedipine, amlodipine, diltiazem, verapamil), antidepressants, MAO.
  • Diseases in the lymphatic system, kidney problems, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, nephritic syndrome.
  • Due to inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout.
  • The appearance of cellulite is a cause of the formation of edema but it is also a consequence, since people who suffer from tired legs, much more frequently suffer from cellulite or have a greater tendency to suffer from it.

Negative consequences

The consequences depend on the condition, a slight punctual inflammation is not the same as something permanent and more important.

  • Appearance of cellulite, the decrease in venous circulation, causes the appearance of cellulite nodules and the worsening of the problem.
  • Ulceration and infections, more common in people who are also diabetic.
  • Greater probability of the appearance of varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Some advices

  1. Drinking water. One of the tips that is usually given is to drink several liters of water daily to drain and eliminate toxins from the body. However, if we have fluid retention, drinking a lot of water can actually hinder the problem of edema. So the correct advice is to drink enough water so as not to worsen the situation or add some draining agent to the drinking water that helps eliminate toxins and avoid fluid retention.
  2. massages, Manual or mechanical, with appliances, improves movement and stimulates venous return. The massage should always be in the opposite direction to that of gravity.
  3. Gels and foams for tired legs. They give freshness or a sensation of cold and will help reduce edema. Some in their composition may contain rutosides or other components such as vitamins that will help strengthen venous and capillary circulation. Among them we have horse chestnut, gingko biloba, ruscus and green tea.
  4. Avoid footwear that puts pressure on the foot, especially in the parts where there is more edema. Cold gel, compression stockings and socks, likewise, very tight clothing, especially at the waist, can cause this edema.
  5. Keep your legs uphigher than the height of the heart, so that we take advantage of the law of gravity itself.
  6. Diet, lose weight and reduce salt content to prevent fluid retention and improve lymphatic drainage. Avoid alcohol consumption, which in itself is already a vasodilator.
  7. When you need to sit still or sit for many hours, it is advisable to walk or lift your legs from time to time and move often.
  8. Drugs and supplements. The same ones that I have previously advised and that I will detail below: rutosides, horse chestnut, gingko bilova and flavonoids such as those in green tea. As drugs, diuretics are those that are usually recommended.

What can we do?

  • On trips of more than four hours the risk of suffering from edema is much higher. Many doctors often advise using a sodium heparin injection before traveling or simply taking an aspirin, when the risk is lower.
  • Sit without crossing your legs. This prevents blood circulation from improving.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Get up and walk down the hall several times.
  • Raise your knees and straighten your legs while sitting.
  • Raise your heels as much as possible while keeping your toes on the ground, return to the starting position and repeat it several times.
  • Raise your knee and move your ankle by rotating it several times clockwise and vice versa.
  • One of the best ways of prevention is physical exercise in which the legs are toned and the circulatory system is strengthened. The sports that are recommended are: dancing, swimming, running, jumping, climbing stairs agilely, striding, squats, squats with crossed legs, maintaining the T shape (raising the leg backwards).

The best supplements

Natural oral supplements are very effective and, in fact, the drugs that are usually prescribed are based on natural products.

We can find them in capsules, drops, powder or even in drinks such as infusions or decoctions. Likewise, we usually find these types of products in topical creams or gels.

Oral products will help improve Capillary strength and venous circulation, including of course venous return. They are usually the same ones that we recommend when there is a hemorrhoid problem:

  • Berries, like açai, bilberries.
  • Gingko Biloba.
  • Asiatic spark.
  • Horse chestnut.
  • Ginger.
  • Dandelion.
  • Apple vinager.
  • Equisetum arvensis.
  • Orthosiphon.
  • Gel or cream that gives a feeling of freshness, usually containing menthol, camphor, lavender, rosemary, sage.

As active ingredients, flavonoids mainly appear, such as rutosides, diosmin, hesperidin and ruscogenins. They can be taken and applied in moments of acute crisis as a preventive measure, such as:

  • FLEBINEC, with diosmin, troxerutin and hesperidin.
  • DAFLON, diosmin, flavonoids.

Home remedies

All products that help improve diuresis will help reduce the problem of edema or inflammation of the legs.

  1. Reduce the salt content we eat.

  2. Epson salts. Baths in warm water with Epson salts (magnesium sulfate) help reduce leg swelling.

  3. Vegetables and fruits that have a significant diuretic effect, such as cucumber, celery, fennel, pineapple, cherries or ginger.

Some recipes

Apple and celery juice.

Ingredients: three stalks of celery, two green apples, one lemon and ice.

Fennel cooking.

Ingredients and preparation: boil, let about twelve grams of fennel seeds rest for five minutes and strain; obtain half a liter of fennel water, add the juice of one lemon, the whole peel and include some sage leaves.

Green Tea.

It is one of the draining drinks par excellence, we can add some blueberries.

Ginger lemonade.

Ingredients and preparation: mix the juice of several lemons with a chopped or grated fresh ginger root (it doesn’t need to rest as much), some mint leaves, let it rest for about an hour and add some ice cubes and some mint leaves.

Massage oil.

To massage oils, such as sweet almond oil, you can add a few drops of essential oils depending on what you like:

  • Lavender. It is the essential oil best known as an analgesic, not only to calm migraines or headaches, but also to reduce leg inflammation by massaging and relaxing the muscles.
  • Mint. It is also anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and also provides a feeling of freshness in the legs.
  • Rosemary. It has important analgesic and anti-inflammatory action. Helps reduce retention and inflammation of the legs.
  • Camomile. Chamomile oil is also soothing and anti-inflammatory and has a great ability to penetrate the skin, it is also ideal when there is an arthritis problem.
  • Lemon. In addition to being anti-inflammatory, it is refreshing, antiseptic and helps relax the muscles.

Mix oil with cider vinegar that will also calm edema and irritated skin.

*Meritxell Martí is a pharmacist.

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