Coping with swelling during the summer months

Published: 16 Jul 2019

Warm weather generally makes children feel active and motivated. But for children and young people with JIA, the warm weather might bring additional challenges. While it’s not uncommon for feet, ankles, and hands to swell up in the heat, those already dealing with JIA swelling may experience further tenderness.

Girl - Swelling

 Here are some ideas to make the discomfort more bearable:

  • With feet and ankles, it’s not a great time to think about breaking in new shoes or sandals. Flip flops are comfortable if there is any swelling, but they don’t offer much support. There are several more robust, supportive alternatives. If you can, speak to your podiatrist, physio or specialist nurse for ideas. Every child and young person is unique, try and encourage them to wear footwear that is comfortable. If you are going out for the day, it’s a good idea to carry a spare pair of shoes in the car that you know are comfortable, just in case.
  • Tight rings on fingers and bracelets can get stuck or even cut off circulation as hands and fingers swell throughout the day. If your child is going to an activity or event and they want to wear jewellery, suggest your child looks for expandable or flexible jewellery or if they have jewellery they like to wear that isn’t flexible, make sure they put it on only when they get to where they are going. You could even buy them a little jewellery box or jewellery roll to keep it safe until they wear it. Bangles can be difficult to get off swollen hands, so consider bracelets with clasps.
  • You can plan “cool-down” breaks in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest. On holiday, go for afternoon swims or take long lunches in an air-conditioned restaurant. At home, you could set up a sprinkler in a shady spot to allow your child to play without catching too much sun. Or, you could rest inside and watch movies next to the fan. Afternoons indoors, colouring or doing crafts while enjoying the relief from the heat is also a good option.
  • It can also be helpful to keep cold compresses on hand. Freeze or refrigerate cold packs or use a bag of ice wrapped in a tea-towel at home. If you’re on the go, buy instant cold packs that don’t need to be kept chilled. Instead, they can be activated by shaking when needed. They’re handy while on holiday.

Indoor games

Family-Photo Bingo:
Improve your child's memory and help him learn who's who in your family tree with this photo game. Take nine family photos and arrange them into rows of three, then give your child nine playing cards or checkers pieces to serve as bingo chips. When someone calls out "Daddy" or "Grandma," your toddler covers the photo with the card. Whoever gets three in a row wins.

Rock Painting:Rock Painting
There are so many cool ideas for younger and older children. You can use child friendly paint or for something more permanent, for older children get hold of some acrylic paints or permanent marker pens. You can even purchase your rocks in bulk! Look on the internet for ideas and supplies. Once you have a few stones painted, use the pictures on the stones to tell a story, they can be as fun to make as to use afterwards. 

Balloon Blow: 
Set up a “course” and see if your child can blow a balloon all the way to the finish line. They’ll have to do lots of army crawls working their upper body and core strength along the way.

Sticky Note Wall BopSticky Note Wall Bop
Attach 26 sticky notes to the back of a door and write a different letter on each one (in random order). Make a “start” line a few feet away from the door (more if you have older kids) and have your child stand behind it with a soft ball, bean bag, stuffed animal or pair of rolled up socks. Now instruct them to throw their object to try and hit the “A” or the “T”. Players with more advanced aim and spelling skills can try and hit all the letters in specific words (to make it even tougher, if they miss one of the letters, have them start all over again!).

Treasure Hunt: 
Make some clues on card or paper, these can be more cryptic for older children or you can use pictures or photos for younger ones. Leave the clues around the house or garden, and then follow the clues around the house. At the end have a small piece of “treasure” for the winner to enjoy or share.