Are you bothered by varicose veins? You may think they look unpleasant, but they’re rarely a serious health concern. Here’s what you need to now about varicose veins.
Your veins age like the rest of your body. Walls weaken, and valves start to leak. Larger veins that look twisted, lumpy, and blue are called varicose. They mostly appear on legs and hands. Smaller versions are called spider veins. They can show up anywhere.
Many less invasive treatment methods have become available in recent years. Before you choose anything too expensive or intensive, keep in mind that varicose veins often come back. Your doctor can help you understand what’s appropriate for your needs.
If you live long enough, you’ll probably develop some varicose veins, but you may be able to make them less noticeable and more comfortable. Learn more with this quick guide.
Living with Varicose Veins
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your options may range from surgery to simple interventions you can do at home. In most cases, you’ll be safe even if you decide to take no action. So, what can you do about varicose veins?
- Ask your doctor. Let your doctor know about your symptoms. While serious complications are rare, you may experience general discomfort, fatigue, and itching.
- Elevate your legs. Reduce swelling by using a footrest at home and work. Lie on your back and press your legs against a wall, so your feet are above your heart.
- Change your diet. It might help to eat foods rich in antioxidants that slow down damage at the cellular level. Smart choices include vegetables, fruits, and tea.
- Consider closure procedures. A variety of newer treatments make it easier to close veins rather than surgically removing them. Your doctor may recommend sclerotherapy that involves injecting a chemical solution or ablation that uses laser or radio waves.
- Seek urgent care. Varicose veins are more fragile. Call your doctor or go to an emergency room if you experience heavy bleeding or clots or if the surrounding skin becomes infected.
You may want to know how to prevent varicose veins. More than 50% of adults will have some varicose or spider veins. Still, there are things you can do that will help postpone them or keep them from becoming more visible, even if you don’t prevent them completely.
- Lose weight. Excess pounds put more pressure on your legs. Slim down with a balanced diet. Choose foods high in fiber that will help you to feel full while eating less.
- Move around. Standing or sitting in the same position for too long makes your circulation slow down. Take breaks to stretch your limbs at least once each hour. Walking or any form of regular exercise will help too.
- Use compression. Try special socks and stockings that are designed to gently squeeze your legs. You can buy them in regular stores, or your insurance may cover them. Ask your doctor how long you need to wear them.
- Wear flats. You may love the way high heels look on you. However, spending too many hours in them can aggravate varicose veins and other health issues. Save them for parties and date nights.
- Drink water. Staying well hydrated helps to keep your blood flowing. Carry a water bottle around with you. Use celery sticks and lemon wedges for flavor if you find plain water boring.
- Be realistic. Keep in mind that lifestyle choices play a relatively minor role. There are many factors beyond your control, like aging, being a woman, and hormonal changes related to pregnancy and menopause.
Varicose veins are not related to heart disease, so you may decide to live with them unless your doctor recommends otherwise. Even if you do need treatment, nonsurgical options provide adequate relief for most patients.