24 Jan Why do I have swollen hands in hot weather?
Ever wondered why on a hot day your hands might become red puffy and swollen? Perhaps you struggle with engagement, wedding or other rings during the summertime? While annoying, hands and feet swelling in the heat is a common occurrence and not necessarily a cause for alarm.
Many individuals experience swelling in their hands during hot weather, which is caused by a condition known as peripheral oedema. Peripheral oedema is characterised by the accumulation of fluid in the tissues, which can cause the hands to appear puffy and feel heavy. It’s your body’s natural response to heat as it tries to cool you down. This condition can be caused by various factors, including hot weather, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions such as arthritis, venous insufficiency, heart failure and kidney disease.
Hot weather as a cause for swollen hands:
During hot weather, the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms are activated, which increases blood flow to the skin in order to dissipate heat. This increased blood flow can cause the blood vessels in the hands to dilate, which can lead to increased fluid accumulation in the tissues. Additionally, hot weather can cause the body to lose fluids through sweating, which can also contribute to oedema in the hands.
Dehydration as a cause for swollen hands:
Another factor that can contribute to oedema in the hands during hot weather is dehydration. When the body is dehydrated, it can cause the blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to increased interstitial fluid pressure and fluid accumulation in the tissues. Therefore, it’s important to maintain adequate hydration levels during hot weather to help prevent oedema in the hands.
What you can do?
Stay hydrated and avoid salty foods and tight clothing. Try to keep the affected area elevated and moving. Stay in the shade if possible.
Movement tip: Bend your arms so your hands are lifted up instead of hanging down at your sides. Stretch all of your fingers out for a few seconds and then make a fist. Repeat this several times.
Medical conditions as a cause for swollen hands:
Certain medical conditions can also contribute to oedema in the hands during hot weather. These include pregnancy, lymphoedema, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, venous insufficiency, heart failure, and kidney disease. Some conditions can impair the ability to pump blood back to the heart, resulting in increased pressure in the veins and fluid accumulation in the tissues.
Prevention and treatment:
To prevent or reduce oedema in the hands during hot weather, it’s important to maintain adequate hydration levels, elevate the affected limb, and avoid prolonged standing or sitting.
Compression therapy using compression garments such as gloves or sleeves can provide gentle pressure on the affected area and encourage the movement of fluid out of the affected area. Additionally, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a gentle massage technique that is typically performed by a qualified hand therapist and can be very effective in reducing swelling in the hands.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it’s important to consult with your health professional about appropriate treatment.
Hot weather can be a major contributor to oedema in the hands, but it is not the only cause. Dehydration, pre-existing medical conditions, and other factors can also play a role.
If you are experiencing finger, hand or wrist pain, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to help you.
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