It’s estimated that about half the population of the Unites States suffers from varicose veins. And that’s just the United States. Globally, it’s thought that around 50% of women and 40% of men suffer from the condition globally.
Varicose veins are sometimes considered unattractive by those who have them. But they can also be extremely painful. In fact, sometimes the pain from varicose veins requires surgery to treat.
Fortunately, varicose veins are both avoidable and treatable. Read on to find out what you can do to keep varicose veins at bay.
What Are Varicose Veins?
To understand treatment and prevention of varicose veins, you’ll need to know what causes them.
Many people think of varicose veins as spider veins on old ladies’ legs. That’s only partially true! Varicose veins affect both men and women. And while it’s true that they become more likely as you grow older, you can get varicose veins even at a younger age.
So what makes spider veins appear? Well, to put it simply, varicose veins are twisted and enlarged veins. They’ll usually first appear at your ankles and your legs, but sometimes you might find them in your arms.
The cause of the condition is simply weakened valves in your veins. Normally, the blood in your veins flows toward your heart. Valves prevent gravity from bringing that blood back down. But if those valves are weakened, blood collects and pools in your lower extremities. The result is a pressure which causes your veins to become twisted and enlarged.
Now, let’s address that issue of age. Yes, older adults are more susceptible to varicose veins. But literally anyone can get them. If you’re overweight, you have a great risk of varicose veins, as well as a host of other health complications. Pregnancy can also make you prone to the condition.
If you have a job that requires you to stand on your feet or in one position all day, you might find yourself with varicose veins. And, of course, varicose veins may be genetic. If your mother or father had the condition, it’s likely you will too.
How to Treat Varicose Veins at Home
It’s rare that your varicose veins will require too much medical intervention. Nevertheless, if you suspect you’ve got the condition, it’s probably best to chat with a doctor about it. Go ahead and rule out any other conditions before you begin to treat varicose veins at home.
Once your doctor gives you the clear, though, there are several simple things you can do at home to lessen, even eliminate, varicose veins.
Wear Compression Stockings
You already know that varicose veins are caused by problems with blood flow to the heart. There’s really no simpler way to remedy that problem than by wearing compression socks.
I’ll just go ahead and make the correlation for you. You may think of compression stockings as a part of an elderly lady’s outfit. Just the same as you think of varicose veins as an elderly lady’s condition.
There’s a reason for that. Many of those older adults you see wearing compression stockings do so because of varicose veins.
Compression stockings are tighter at the ankle than they are further up your leg. This pressure forces the blood up toward your heart. As a result, you’ll have improved circulation in your legs when you wear your compression stockings.
You can wear compression socks or stockings all day. But for the best health, be sure to take them off at night.
Exercise solves a world of problems, folks. First of all, if you’re overweight, you’re more prone to varicose veins. A healthy diet and an adequate amount of exercise can help you lose weight, thus reducing your risk of varicose veins.
Secondly, exercise will help to improve your circulation. Low impact exercise like walking, swimming and cycling are the best exercises to treat varicose veins. Talk to your doctor, though. There are even exercises you can do while sitting to improve circulation in your legs.
If you’re in pain due to varicose veins, it’s also a good idea to check with your doctor. He or she may prescribe something for the pain, advise that you don’t exercise as frequently, or even recommend that you wear compression stockings while you work out.
Elevate Your Legs
Let gravity do the work. If you’re suffering from varicose veins, elevate them. As you relax in the evening, prop your legs up. Keeping resistance to blood flow at a minimum, and you’ll gradually begin to improve your circulation.
Doctors usually recommend that you elevate your legs for about 15 minutes, four times each day. This will reduce pressure in your legs, too, and may help to alleviate some of the pain you feel due to varicose veins.
Mind Your Posture
Sometimes, your job requires you to sit in one place all day. Sometimes you’ll be on your feet all day. Both can cause issues with varicose veins, so be sure to switch it up as best you can.
Take frequent breaks. Bypass the interoffice envelope in favor of dropping the file off yourself. Or, just stand up and walk in place for a few minutes. (Only a few people will give you funny looks.) And avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
Your job may not be conducive to walking around. For instance, if you’re a long distance truck driver, you can’t stand up periodically. Instead, take advantage of gas stops. You get the idea. Just move around!
Medical Treatments for Varicose Veins
It’s rare, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes, medical intervention is required to treat varicose veins. If your varicose veins aren’t responding to home treatment, talk to your doctor.
There are a few types of varicose vein treatment, ranging from laser therapy to actual surgery. Your doctor will collaborate with you about the best course of action, and you’ll be on your way to pain free legs in no time.