Have you ever seen dark purple cord-like lines running over your grandparents’ legs? These dark purple/bluish-looking veins are called varicose veins.
In a nutshell, these are twisted or swollen, enlarged veins. Veins become varicose when faulty valves in the veins cause blood to flow in the wrong direction or pooling of blood.
How To Treat Varicose Veins – Causes & Prevention
Varicose veins rarely require treatment. However, in severe cases, a varicose vein may rupture or develop varicose ulcers, which would require treatment.
When Should You Seek Treatment?
Most of the time, varicose veins or spider veins (a common but mild variation of varicose veins) are harmless and present as a cosmetic issue rather than a physical one. However, you must consult a doctor if your varicose vein is accompanied by:
- Achy or heaving feeling
- Throbbing, pain, muscle cramping or swelling
- Worsening pain when sitting or standing for long periods
- Skin discolouration
Complications may include skin ulcers, sores, deep vein thrombosis, and bleeding. Bleeding from the veins is a medical emergency and needs to be treated urgently.
Causes for Varicose Veins
Valves in veins may become weak or damaged due to various reasons such as age, obesity, propensity to remain in the same position for long periods etc. Veins carry blood from the rest of the body to the hearts for recirculation. For this purpose, veins in the legs must work against gravity.
Muscle contractions work as pumps to push the blood flow. Valves in the veins open to allow blood flow to the heart and close to stop blood from flowing backward. These valves may weaken or get damaged, leading to blood flowing backward or pooling in the vein.
Who Are at Risk of Developing Varicose Veins?
- Age: The risk of varicose veins increases with age. Aging leads to eventual wear and tear damage to the valves in the veins.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop varicose veins compared to men. Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause may also lead to varicose veins because hormones tend to relax vein walls.
- Family history: If there are family members with varicose veins, the risk of developing will increase.
- Obesity: Obesity will place more pressure on your veins, leading to damage/ weakening of valves.
There is no sure-fire way of completely preventing the development of varicose veins. However, you can reduce the risk of developing varicose veins by increasing blood flow in your legs. This can also help avoid the worsening of existing varicose veins.
Exercising your leg muscles, in particular, will help keep them strong and steady. It plays a major role in reducing the risk of developing varicose veins.
- Lose weight
The main reason for losing weight is to reduce the pressure on your legs. The veins in the legs work against gravity and exert a lot of pressure to push the blood back to the heart. Losing weight will take off the pressure.
- Keep changing your posture
We sit for hours in class or the office. We maintain the same hunched-back posture for long hours. Not only does it lead to chronic pain, it can also develop varicose veins. The easiest way to avoid this is to get up and stretch a little every hour or so and to walk around a bit.
- Avoid tight fit clothes
Tight-fitting clothes may emphasise your gorgeous figure, but they also place more pressure on your legs. This can lead to developing varicose veins or worsening existing varicose veins.
- Put your feet up
Placing your feet up on a chair, stool or table positioned at a slightly higher height will help your blood flow back to the heart. Those who sit or stand for long periods must do this at least once a day for some time.
- Avoid high heels
Women love high heels, but they are hell for your spine. They also place a lot of pressure on your legs, leading to a higher risk of developing varicose veins.
- Changing your diet
High-fibre and low salt diet will help you remain hydrated. This will ensure your body does not retain water, thus, reducing the pressure on your vascular system. It will help you maintain your weight, avoid heart diseases and indirectly help prevent varicose veins.
Following the above preventive methods could go a long way in reducing the risk of developing varicose veins. However, this cannot prevent varicose veins completely.
Amanda Wingfield is a certified Diabetes Management Specialist who also holds an MD in Endocrinology, with certifications from ABIM and AACE. She has a decade of experience serving thousands of patients through her independent practice and has been working in the capacity of an expert diabetes consultant for the past 4 years. Ms. Wingfield is revered by her regular readers for her in-depth research and evidence-based analysis of diabetes medications, supplements, and treatments, and her highly critical style of writing.