If you have swollen visible veins on your legs, chances are you have varicose veins.
People mostly despise it for cosmetic reasons. However, this condition can become serious if ignored. The good news is that you can effectively manage varicose veins at home, preventing them from worsening over time.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are bulging, gnarly veins that can be seen and felt under the skin. As the name suggests, it’s a venous disorder commonly found in the legs.
Veins carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart from all over the body. The veins in our legs have to work against the pull of gravity to push blood up and back toward the heart. This is why the veins in our legs have internal valves that open and close periodically to prevent backflow. Due to various reasons, these valves can become weak or damaged.
Veins with damaged valves are not able to function efficiently, causing blood to pool in them. This, in turn, causes swelling and eventually leads to varicose veins.
Are Varicose Veins And Spider Veins The Same?
A varicose vein is a chronic condition that can’t be cured once you develop it. Many people confuse varicose veins with spider veins, which is a more minor and less serious version of varicose veins. It’s an indicator of poor blood circulation and a warning that your vein health needs improvement. Spider veins, when ignored, inevitably lead to Varicose veins.
Why Do We Get Varicose Veins?
There are several causes for varicose veins in the legs, but the most important one to consider is your lifestyle. When you sit or stand for extended periods, the pressure on your veins increases because they no longer have the support or your calf muscles to push blood up, increasing your risk for venous insufficiency.
The veins in your legs are the farthest from your heart and nearest to the pull of gravity, making it harder for them to recirculate the blood. Veins are flexible tools, but as you age or are in the high-risk category, the strain overpowers your veins, and they twist and stretch out, eventually leading to varicose veins.
But then, why doesn’t every lazy person get varicose veins? Although extended periods of immobility are a major cause of this venous insufficiency, there are several other factors that play a role
Factors linked to a higher risk of developing varicose veins are:
- Being female
- Taking birth control pills
- Having undergone a hormone replacement therapy
- Being genetically predisposed to varicose veins
- Being overweight or obese
- Being over 50 years old
- Going through menopause
- Standing or sitting for long periods
There is no definite answer to why you got varicose veins, and your colleague didn’t, who doesn’t get up from his desk for hours, but there are a few elements that make you more susceptible to this venous disorder, as we mentioned above. The biggest one is hereditary.
But that one factor alone doesn’t write off your fate. If you take proper care of your vein health, you can save yourself from the danger of developing this disorder.
First, let’s understand if and when you need to see a doctor for your venous condition.
When To See A Vein Doctor?
Varicose veins can significantly impact your quality of life, and up to 70% of people with this condition will suffer from leg symptoms other than appearance.
If you experience any of the following varicose veins symptoms, you need to see a doctor:
- Pain and heaviness in the legs
- Swelling in the ankle, foot, and legs
- Varicose veins are red or feel warm
- Spontaneous bleeding from the veins
- Itchy and inflamed skin around veins
- Ulcers and open skin wounds that developed on their own
Painful varicose veins are a major red flag that should not be ignored.
Why Ignoring Painful Varicose Veins Is Dangerous?
If you have a painful varicose vein, it is a sign that something more serious is happening, and you should get it checked before it gets worse.
Painful varicose veins can worsen when not taken care of, leading to severe complications like excessive bleeding, painful swelling, skin ulcers and infections, venous leg ulcers, Thrombophlebitis, and Deep vein thrombosis puts you at risk of life-threatening Pulmonary Embolism.
So while varicose veins may not be life-threatening on their own, they can lead to other severe medical conditions over the years when not diligently taken care of.
How To Take Care Of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can be unsightly, but that is nothing compared to the pain and discomfort they can cause. It can alter your quality of life and hamper your day-to-day activities.
The only way to get relief from this condition is to ensure a healthy flow of blood through your veins. Your veins won’t trouble you if the blood keeps moving.
How To Keep Your Blood Moving?
Ways to help your veins keep the blood moving:
- Compression Stockings
Wearing compression stockings for varicose veins all day is often the first approach to managing varicose veins symptoms. They steadily squeeze your legs, helping veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently.
Compression stockings have become the go-to device for venous disorders. Their ability to relieve pain and effectively control the condition has made them the best non-invasive treatment for varicose veins.
- Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise will help strengthen your veins and muscles while preventing new varicose veins from developing. In addition, it helps in healthy blood circulation.
- Avoid Standing or sitting for a long time
The most important tip for managing and preventing varicose veins is to keep those legs moving. Don’t be immobile for more than 30 minutes at a time.
- Elevate your legs
Use gravity to your advantage. Whenever you get a chance, put your feet up and give your veins a rest; for once, let gravity do all the work. The blood will easily flow back to your heart, giving instant relief.
If not during the day, ensure you at least elevate your legs at the end of the day. For pregnancy-induced varicose veins, this is the best solution.
- Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes
Tight clothes worsen your varicose veins and can further hamper your blood circulation.
How To Prevent Varicose Veins?
Existing varicose veins won’t disappear overnight but making some lifestyle changes can help prevent new varicose veins from developing.
- If you’re pregnant, elevate your feet when you sit down whenever possible.
- If you’re overweight, lose some weight by walking more or participating in a low-impact activity that improves your blood circulation, such as yoga, swimming, or aerobics.
- Eat healthier and try to reduce your salt intake.
- Change your position regularly and walk around when possible.
- Use compression stockings to enhance your blood circulation.
Varicose veins are a fairly common venous disorder that mainly occurs in women. Although inconvenient and unsightly, varicose veins are easily manageable with effective tools like compression stockings and a few lifestyle changes.
However, varicose veins can grow into dangerous, life-threatening conditions like DVT if ignored and left untreated for a long time. So, if you experience any pain in your varicose veins, don’t ignore it: see a doctor immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Can varicose veins lead to death?
A varicose vein is a prevalent venous disease; however, it rarely leads to death. However, varicose veins can lead to deep vein thrombosis, which can have life-threatening consequences.
Q2. Is walking good for varicose veins?
Walking is beneficial for people who have varicose veins as it helps in keeping the blood moving. In addition, it’s a low-impact workout for your calf muscles that don’t strain your veins.
Q3. Is drinking water good for varicose veins?
Dehydration can cause the tissues and muscles to cramp, which is detrimental for people with varicose veins. This can further increase their aching and soreness.
Drinking lots of water is the best way to stay hydrated
Q4. Is it normal to have varicose veins in only one leg?
Varicose veins can happen in any part of the body, but your legs are at a higher risk of developing this condition. It can occur in one or both legs.