Help, Summer is on the way!
Increased burden of lymphoedema during the summer
Despite the desire for better weather, many people who suffer from lymphoedema struggle with the effects that summer brings. When the temperature is rising, the summer clothing is brought out again and the holiday feeling kicks in, this can be annoying for people with lymphoedema.
Let us go back to basics. What is lymph, and what is your lymphatic system? In addition to the blood vessel system, we have a second vascular system in our body: the lymphatic system. This is a drainage system, in contrast to the vascular system, which also has a supplying function. The lymphatic system starts in your tissues and transports the lymph to increasingly larger lymph vessels. The lymph absorbs fluids and waste products in your tissues, and these are carried away until they are excreted. It is important to know that once the lymphatic fluid has passed at least one lymph node, the lymphatic fluid can (re-) enter the bloodstream.
Lymphoedema are proteins that have accumulated in our lymphatic system because this system is no longer functioning properly. The removal of the lymphatic fluid no longer works as it should, as a result of which the system slows down and the substances in the lymphatic fluid can ‘clot’. This can have various causes that are both congenital (primary) and have arisen after damage (secondary). At Huidzorg Delft we often see lymphoedema complaints after treatment for cancer.
Not only does the summer weather cause more lymphoedema symptoms, but many people also find it upsetting that their arm or leg stocking is more visible under a T-shirt or shorts.
Why do we suffer more from lymphoedema during the summer?
Because of the heat, your blood vessels expand more, allowing more blood to flow to the tissue. This ensures that your body maintains a constant temperature. The widening of the blood vessels also means that more lymph must be removed. But if there is a problem in the lymphatic system, it is no longer so easy to dispose of. This will cause accumulations and make the oedema worse.
The effect of travel on lymphoedema
There are other reasons that can cause us to suffer more from lymphoedema during the summer. When we go on holiday, we either take the plane or sit in the car for a longer period of time. When flying, our vascular systems have to work extra hard to keep up with the pressure difference in the cabin. Our vascular system has an extra hard time and really needs a few days to recover from this, let alone if there is a defect in our lymphatic system. Sitting still for a long time in an aircraft as well as in a car is also damaging to the lymphatic system, because our muscles do not activate the lymphatic system. At the same time, the sitting position, especially in the case of lymphoedema in the legs, causes the system to be pinched off at the back of our thighs.
Tuinieren en beestjes
Summer also means we’ll be outside more. We set to work in great numbers to get our garden ready for the summer, so that we can then enjoy it to the full. Gardening involves prolonged exposure to the sun and the lymphoedema does not like this. The heat of the sun can increase lymphoedema. Being busy pruning, replacing or repotting plants can also put you at risk of wounds. It is important that people with lymphoedema be careful not to get wounds, as this is the perfect opportunity for a bacteria to penetrate the skin and cause trouble. This also applies to all insects that show up again in the summer. These include mosquitoes, bees and wasps. It is important to ensure that you protect yourself well and try to avoid an insect bite where possible.
Can I still enjoy the summer when I have lymphoedema?
Fortunately, it does not mean that if you have lymphedema, you cannot enjoy the nice summer period. The following tips and tricks will help you get through the summer.
- If you are outside, wear protective clothing against the sun, but also when gardening to prevent wounds.
- Stay in the shade regularly or cool yourself with cooling elements, a cold wet towel or occasionally spray your stocking with a plant sprayer filled with cold water.
- If you suffer from lymphoedema, try not to walk on bare feet but rather in slippers. This prevents the risk of injuries to the feet.
- Drink plenty of water! This makes it easier for your body temperature to remain constant.
- Regularly raise the body part where you suffer from lymphoedema, grab a stool for your legs or place your arm on a railing.
- Keep moving. Keep moving slowly, this stimulates the flow of the lymphatic system. So go for a swim when you are on holiday. The pressure of the water and the movement have a positive effect on the lymphoedema.
And don’t forget to enjoy.
With small adjustments, you can live very well with lymphoedema, and you will still be able to do all the fun things.Would you like more tips on how to get through the summer, or is it time for new compression stockings? Then please do not hesitate to contact us.
p.s.: Did you know that on this website you can buy very nice covers for your arm sleeves? This is how you turn your boring arm stocking into a fashionable accessory.