There may be many reasons. First, it IS summer in Wisconsin, and that means heat, humidity, and swollen feet.
Just ask Janice. It was a hot July day. Janice and her family went to the beach. She played with the kids in the lake, enjoyed a picnic lunch, and just enjoyed relaxing on the beach blanket in the warm sunshine. But by day’s end, Janice’s feet had swollen too much to fit into her shoes.
Fortunately, like most weather-related swelling, Janice’s swollen feet were a temporary condition.
Why do our feet swell in hot weather?
The body is amazing and has many ways to take care of itself. Sometimes it causes discomfort, but the choices that we make can help.
1. When the weather is hot, your blood vessels expand to help keep your body at the right temperature. When this internal cooling system turns on, fluid can leak into surrounding tissues and collect in the feet and ankles.
2. Warm weather can dehydrate you. When the body becomes dehydrated, it holds on to more water.
3. Some snacks and foods lead to swelling. When it’s hot outside, many people grab a “quick bite” to eat. But many times fast food and processed foods contain large amounts of sodium. Salty foods and snacks help the body hold on to fluid.
4. The hot, lazy days of summer cause people to slow down. People tend to move less and sit more. Staying in one place limits muscle contractions and makes it harder for blood to circulate. As blood flow slows, fluids can leak into nearby tissues.
Age, pregnancy, arthritis, injury, and other conditions also can cause swollen feet and ankles. Sometimes, water retained in the ankles indicates a serious condition such as venous insufficiency, diabetes, lymphatic disorders, or problems with your liver, kidneys, or heart.
Twelve things you can do to minimize weather-related foot and ankle swelling.
1. Break out the lemonade or other beverages. Experts recommend drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. Not only does lemonade count as a glass of liquid, but the lemons also act as a diuretic to remove excess water from the body. But be aware of the salt and sugar content; too much of either will cause swelling.
2. Wear well-fitting shoes made with “breathable” materials to keep your feet cool. Mesh, canvas, and similar materials allow air to flow. If your feet swell, loosen the laces or clips. Even shoes that fit well can cause blisters and other issues if swelling pinches your feet.
4. Put your feet up. Elevating your feet will help reduce swelling.
5. Keep moving. Movement helps keep the blood and fluids moving through your body, which helps decrease swelling. Take a short walk every 30 minutes to an hour.
6. Wear compression stockings. These specialized socks help circulation.
7. Ask your doctor to check your magnesium levels. Recommendations suggest taking 200 mg of magnesium twice a day can help minimize foot and ankle swelling.
8. Soak your feet in a cooling Epsom salt solution. A good soak will help remove excess fluids from your feet.
9. Get a foot massage. The increased circulation helps counteract swelling.
10. Eat a healthy diet that includes potassium-rich foods. Potassium may help reduce swelling.
11. Check your medications. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist if any of the medicines you take cause swelling in your feet.
12. Lose weight. If you’re carrying extra weight, your ankles will swell more.
If you notice swelling only on one side of your body, call your health care provider immediately! It could be a sign of a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis. This is a serious and life-threatening condition that needs urgent care.
If your foot and ankle swelling is weather-related, it should be a temporary situation and should get better after you rehydrate, put your feet up, and cool off. But, if the swelling in your feet or ankles doesn’t go away, contact your health care provider.