What is it?

Edema is a medical term for swelling that occurs when excess fluids get trapped in the body tissues. When the edema occurs due to prolonged exposure to heat, the condition is known as heat edema. During summers, the outdoor temperatures are usually high, and people love to spend time on the beaches, but they forget about the consequences of excessive heat. The rising temperatures cause the widening of the blood vessels. As a result, the fluid leaks out and gets stored beneath the skin resulting in edema or swelling.

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Signs & symptoms

Heat edema commonly occurs when people spend a lot of time under the sun or remain outside in summer for a prolonged period. The signs and symptoms of heat edema are:
* Swelling or puffiness in one or both the arms or legs.
* The skin appears stretched and shiny.
* When the swelling is pressed, it leaves a dent or a dimple, known as pitting edema.
* Increased abdominal size.
* It becomes difficult to move the part that is swollen. For example, the patients might experience walking difficulties if the legs are swollen.
* Sometimes, the edema is accompanied by pain in the affected body part.


The diagnosis of heat edema is based on medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging tests. The diagnostic methods are:
* Medical History: The medical history provides information about the general health of the patient. It provides an idea about the symptoms of the condition, the drug history, and the other conditions the patient is suffering from. For example, patients living in hot environments and suffering from renal or cardiac diseases are more likely to develop heat edema. Similarly, heat edema is more likely to develop as a side effect in patients taking antihypertensive drugs for a prolonged period.
* Physical Examination: Swelling of the hands, arms, legs, and ankles is visible on physical examination. The doctor applies light pressure on the swelling with his finger for 10 to 15 seconds. If a dent or a depression is created when the pressure is removed, it is known as pitting edema.
* Laboratory Tests: Laboratory tests are usually recommended to check the urine output. The following laboratory tests must be done to diagnose heat edema are Urinalysis and Blood Tests
* Imaging Tests: Imaging tests are usually recommended to check whether the fluids have accumulated in the other organs of the body. The following imaging tests are usually recommended:
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scans
- Chest X-Ray
- Ultrasound


Heat edema usually subsides after some time. However, the following methods help to treat heat edema:
* Elevation - The patient must elevate his legs several times during the day to improve the flow of blood to the body organs. Keep 2 to 3 pillows below the legs while sleeping as it improves blood circulation and prevents the accumulation of fluids.
8 Compression Stockings - Compression stockings are of great help in reducing swelling, and they are easily available in the medical store. These stockings put pressure on the legs and do not allow the fluids to accumulate in a place.
* Take a Break - Avoid standing for prolonged periods in hot weather as it increases the risk of edema. Take a break and sit for 10 to 15 minutes in a cool place for proper fluid movement.
* Consume Less Salt - Salts contain a large amount of sodium which increases the risk of edema. Salty food items like potato chips, salted peanuts, and pizza must be avoided to prevent heat edema.
* Stay Indoors - If the patient is unable to tolerate heat, he must avoid going out and must stay at home. It is because the risk of heat edema increases due to a lack of acclimatization.
* Drink Water - Drink a sufficient quantity of water daily to prevent dehydration, especially in hot weather. Water helps to flush out the waste products from the body.
* Maintain a Healthy Weight - People who are obese tend to hold a large amount of fluids in their bodies. A healthy diet and exercise are the two keys to maintaining a healthy weight.
* Keep Moving - Do not sit in the same position for a long time. Go for a walk regularly as it helps to improve blood circulation.
* Medications - Medications, mainly diuretics help to remove the excess fluids from the body. Consult the doctor before taking any such medications.
* Quit Smoking - Live a healthy life and quit smoking because it increases the risk of liver and lung diseases. Bronchitis and emphysema are one of the causes of edema.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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