Oy, It’s So Humid!

Yes it’s true, my dear NYC podiatry patients, the endless winter has really and officially been vanquished, and now we have a summer that’s hot as blazes to complain about. Ah. If you’re like me, a really hot and sticky summer day makes you think of swollen ankles, and why it is that the problem is most clearly exacerbated by heat and humidity.

We have covered the topic of swelling and compression over the past few weeks in this most holy and venerated NYC podiatry blog, so I’m not going to bore you with the physiology. The phenomenon that has most interested me is why humid weather always seems to make swollen legs and ankles that much more so. And after some digging around in the information superhighway and scouring the deep nooks and crannies of my noggin, it’s become as clear as a NYC swimming pool in January.

Heat regulation is a complex process in the body, and inextricably intertwined with fluid management. As the outside temperature increases, the blood vessels in the legs become dilated and fluid leaks out, which then causes the fluid to pool on the surface of the skin in the form of sweat. In a dry climate the sweat evaporates, leading to a cooling of the skin surface and body temperature. However, in a humid climate, the fluid does not evaporate quickly, and fluid continues to pool in the legs, and that, my dear patients is why legs swell more in humid weather. As we previously discussed, treatment consists of salt reduction since sodium causes fluid to pool in the extremities (yes, you consume more salt than you think), as well as elevation of the legs and compression hose, which are a joy to wear in the summer.

It’s hot, we are all irritable and I’m shvitzing. But it’s not all bad because we all just learned something. And just think, it’s only Wednesday, or whatever day it is when you happen to be reading this.

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson

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