Circulation problems in the heat – what helps?


Many people struggle with circulation problems in the heat. But there are simple things you can do to help yourself. Drinking enough is one of the most important.

Signs of circulation problems

When it's very hot outside, the body does everything it can to maintain its normal temperature of around 37 degrees. Our blood vessels dilate so that they can release heat more easily. Because this lowers the body’s blood pressure, people with already weak circulation can feel dizzy or even faint.

Symptoms of circulatory problems

Sweating protects the body from overheating. However, sweating causes the body to lose water and salt, and if the loss isn't offset, heat exhaustion may result. Typical symptoms include weakness, pale grey and clammy skin, muscle cramps, nausea, confusion, as well as dizziness and fainting. The latter condition is known as heat syncope.

Beware of heat stroke

Heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke, which is dangerous. When this happens, an emergency doctor must always be called. Heat stroke is often confused with sunstroke. But sunstroke occurs when the head and neck have been exposed to direct sunlight for too long.

Risk groups

Heat can also affect healthy people. However, chronically ill people are at particular risk because their body is already weakened and the high temperatures create additional stress. Chronically ill people are best advised to discuss with their doctor how much liquid they should drink.

Problematic for babies and seniors

Because of their smaller skin surface, babies and toddlers can release less heat through sweating and are therefore more likely to overheat. And older people have the problem that their ability to regulate their body heat declines, as does their sense of thirst.

What helps with circulation problems?

  •  It's better to drink smaller amounts more often than a large amount at once.
  • Avoid very cold drinks, as they cause the body to produce more heat. Tap or mineral water, herbal or fruit teas and fruit spritzers are ideal. These can help replace the electrolytes and minerals lost through sweating.
  • Avoid heavy and rich food. It’s better to eat only half portions and opt for easily digestible foods or cold dishes.
  • Simple and effective: run cool water over your wrists. Arm and foot baths or cooling towels and compresses are also refreshing.
  • Wear light-coloured, loose, air-permeable clothing and cover your head.
  • Avoid physical exertion. If possible, stay indoors or in the shade, especially during the midday hours when the heat is strongest.

What to do if you have circulation problems

Elevate legs, take off tight and sweat-inducing clothing. Splash or spray face and body with cool water. Drink water. If this doesn’t help or if someone faints, call a doctor.

Caution when jumping into cold water

Jumping into cold water when overheated triggers a stress reaction in the body. Extreme temperature differences cause the veins to constrict abruptly, the blood can no longer circulate properly and the body's blood pressure rises. In the worst case, this can lead to cold shock, fainting or a heart attack. For this reason, the Swiss Lifesaving Society advises people to slowly get into cold water or to shower beforehand. This gives the body a chance to get used to the cold water.

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