While varicose veins are an unfortunately common condition that affects up to 3 in 10 adults, the good news is that there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing them.
If you’re unsure what is a varicose vein and what isn’t, you can identify these veins by their swollen, enlarged nature. They’re usually blue or dark purple and occur mostly in the lower extremities. However, varicose veins can also appear on the pelvis, uterus, esophagus, and vaginal and rectal areas.
Varicosities arise due to increased pressure or stagnant blood, causing vein walls to wear thin. While not always a life-threatening condition, it’s possible to have severe symptoms such as varicose vein pain, weakness, numbness, leg swelling, discoloration, achiness, and fatigue. The condition can sometimes lead to blood clots, venous ulcers, and inflammation.
If you develop symptoms, you can seek varicose vein treatment with us at Shaheen Vascular. You can also do several things to help prevent your risk or stop the condition from worsening.
Preventive Measures to Avoid Varicose Veins
Most prevention methods will require lifestyle and habit changes. However, these adjustments will also benefit your overall health. So even if your varicose veins are not that significant, here are several things you should be doing:
Maintaining a Healthy Diet
Excess weight increases pressure in your circulatory system, forcing the heart to work harder to move blood around the body. However, maintaining a healthy weight improves circulation and heart health, positively affecting your veins.
Maintaining a healthy weight starts with a proper diet. Avoiding excess sodium, sugar, and saturated fat and increasing fiber intake and other whole foods can keep blood pressure and cholesterol at normal levels. Consider consulting a nutritionist to help you develop an ideal nutritional plan.
Keeping a Daily Exercise Routine
After adjusting your diet, exercising is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. It also leads to a healthier body overall, benefiting more than just your veins.
Moving your leg muscles helps circulation, avoiding stagnant blood in the legs that would otherwise lead to symptoms of varicose veins. The good news is that you don’t have to strenuously work out to see benefits — you can try light rowing, yoga, or walking through Mountain View’s beautiful Rengstorff Park.
Reducing Cigarette Exposure
Exposure to cigarette smoke causes a narrowing of the veins. While the immediate effect doesn’t last long, the cumulative effects can drastically add up over time. Constant exposure can lead to veins hardening and stretching, making it difficult for blood flow to resist gravity and keep pushing toward the heart. Carbon monoxide and tar also reduce blood oxygen levels, causing inflammation and vein wall damage.
If possible, reduce your use of and exposure to cigarettes and smoke. This can increase your oxygen levels, restore health to your veins, and improve your overall health.
Keeping Your Feet Elevated
Spending most of your day sitting down can cause blood to pool in your legs and lead to the development of varicose veins. So if you sit for long hours due to the nature of your work or lifestyle, periodically elevate your legs above your heart level. Doing so encourages blood to flow back toward your heart and can relieve varicose vein pain and swelling in your legs and ankles.
Modifying Your Clothing Choices
Walking helps blood move up the veins and flow to the heart. However, high heels shift your weight forward and change how you walk naturally. As your calf muscles stay contracted, blood pumps less forcefully through those muscles, instead pooling in your legs and causing varicose veins. So where possible, choose supportive flat shoes over high heels.
It’s also beneficial to reconsider wearing tight hose and clothing, as these garments can restrict blood flow to the legs and cause blood flow stagnation. This constriction can also cause veins to bulge, dilate, or leak. If you need or desire to wear shapewear or tight hose, consider wearing it only part of the day, taking breaks, or walking around regularly to increase circulation.
Wearing Compression Socks
If wearing tight hose or clothing can lead to varicose veins, you may wonder why many professionals recommend compression socks or stockings for varicose vein prevention and treatment. As it turns out, compression socks provide a beneficial form of compression for your legs.
This is because compression socks compensate for venous insufficiency in the legs and push blood deeper, helping it work against gravity and move toward the heart. In turn, this helps keep blood from pooling during long periods of standing and sitting and can relieve the aches and pains of varicose veins.
Moving Around Throughout the Day
If you work in an office, you may sit for hours during the day. If you’re a teacher, police officer, or retail employee, you might stand in the same place for your entire workday. In either scenario, it’s best to change your position periodically.
Prolonged positioning keeps the calf muscles inactive, leading to increased venous pressure and a buildup of stagnant blood. Moving or walking around at least once per hour forces the leg muscles to move blood toward the heart, reducing the chances of developing varicose veins.
What to Do About Symptoms of Varicose Veins in Mountain View, CA
If you are already developing varicose vein symptoms, these prevention methods may keep them from progressing or stop new ones from forming. However, it’s essential to know that varicose veins may still occur due to genetic factors, age, pregnancy, and stress.
If you have developed varicose veins or need help identifying what is a varicose vein and what isn’t, seek consultation and treatment today. Contact us at Shaheen Vascular in Mountain View, CA, to schedule an appointment and discuss how our varicose vein treatment options can help you find relief.