Although it’s difficult to completely prevent varicose veins, you can take certain precautions to delay their onset or reduce their symptoms.
Varicose veins emerge for many reasons, such as lifestyle or heredity. For instance, if you are over the age of 60 and you have a family history of varicose veins, your chances of developing the condition are greater. Pregnant women are also more likely to develop varicose veins due to hormonal fluctuations.
While these are largely factors that you cannot control, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your risk. Here’s what you need to know about maintaining your vein health and reducing the discomfort of varicose veins.
5 Ways to Prevent Varicose Veins
Blood circulates from our heart to our extremities through our veins and arteries. After the blood is pumped from the heart to the legs, tiny valves in the veins close and push blood back to the heart. These valves work against gravity to pump blood, so if they malfunction, blood pools within the vein walls. This causes the veins to stretch out under the skin, leading to the appearance of varicose veins.
Preventing varicose veins depends on supporting the veins as they circulate blood from the extremities to the heart. These five tips provide an extra boost to your veins and keep the blood flowing as it should.
Don’t Sit or Stand For Prolonged Periods. Sitting or standing for long periods of time puts more pressure on the veins as they struggle to return blood to the heart. Eventually, the valves may weaken and blood may collect within the veins. To counteract this effect, take breaks to stretch your legs, or simply flex your ankles while you sit at your desk. Whenever possible, elevate your feet above your heart three times a day for 15 minutes. This helps the blood flow in the right direction and lessens the strain on the vein valves.
Exercise Regularly. Exercises that strengthen the calf muscles — such as walking, swimming, and biking — promote proper blood flow and delay the development of varicose veins. Another workout option is yoga, especially poses that elevate your legs above your heart and stretch the calf muscles.
Maintain A Healthy Weight. Obesity leads to many serious health issues, including varicose veins. Excess weight stresses the veins, leading to swollen and painful varicose veins. Regular exercise and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables help maintain your weight at an ideal level. On the other hand, foods high in salt that cause bloating should be avoided. Keeping your body hydrated is also important for your vein health, so be sure to drink plenty of water during the day.
Try Compression Stockings. Available at different strengths either in a medical supply store or by prescription, these elastic stockings apply pressure to the veins and help them do their job. This added layer of support enables the valves to pump blood upward. If you sit at a desk all day, or are going on a long plane or car ride, compression stockings not only encourage blood flow, but they could prevent blood clots from forming in the legs, as well.
Avoid Excessive Heat. Excessive heat, whether from a hot bath or direct sunlight, dilates the veins. If your vein valves are already weakened, this extra blood overwhelms the vein walls, leading to swelling and achy varicose veins. If you notice your veins are more uncomfortable due to the heat, apply a cold towel to your legs to reduce the swelling.
Treating Your Varicose Veins
At the Kimmel Institute, we’ve helped many patients overcome the discomfort of varicose veins with our minimally invasive treatment options. We can also discuss any risk factors you may have and how to address those risks with prevention tips. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.