An estimated 10%-30% of the global population is affected by varicose veins. The prevalence of this condition in the United States is around 4,500 per 100,000 people. Varicose veins develop when the valves in the superficial veins become compromised, causing a slew of concerns that are difficult to ignore. Twisted, bulging veins are called varicose veins and can develop in any surface-level vein on the skin.
This is primarily a cosmetic issue for some people. With that said, for many patients, varicose veins can be a source of persistent pain and discomfort, eventually leading to further health issues. It’s best to receive early treatment at a vein care center before the symptoms of varicose veins worsen. Mark Medical Care offers vein treatments and to find out more information, call us at 877-673-4818.
Underlying Causes of Varicose Veins
Damaged, malfunctioning or weakened venous valves can cause varicose veins. These valves are critical in allowing blood to flow back to the heart from the veins. For this defiance of gravity to work, your leg muscles must tighten, forcing the blood higher.
Small one-way valves open and close to allow blood to flow to the heart and prevent backflow and blood accumulation in the legs. Based on this, if these valves aren’t working correctly, blood pools, raising pressure inside the veins and causing them to bulge, stretch, or twist, resulting in varicose veins.
This accumulation can cause the vein walls to become weakened, which can lead to blood oozing out of the veins and onto the skin. The skin darkens to a brownish-black color, loses its elasticity, and becomes rigid from scar tissue formation. Detailed here are some of the most typical triggers for varicose veins.
Lifestyle Factors that Contribute to Varicose Veins
Prolonged periods of inactivity increase your risk of developing various health problems. You might gain weight, feel exhausted frequently, and experience discomfort in unlikely ways. Another chronic issue, such as varicose veins, may develop and cause moderate, severe, or even fatal complications.
How a Sedentary Lifestyle can lead to Varicose Vein Development
You can thank the ‘one-way’ check valves in your veins for keeping your blood moving upwards against gravity. The veins that go back to the heart are called “pipes,” because they look like tubes. The calf muscles act as the “pump” or beating heart of the vein system. Any issue with the vein’s valves, pipelines, or pump can cause venous problems.
Lack of movement negatively affects venous blood return, which can cause a domino effect of health issues. The blood from veins in your legs and feet gets pushed back toward your heart when your calf muscles tighten. Because your calf muscles aren’t actively pumping blood, this blood flow decreases when sitting for long periods.
Your veins will enlarge when the blood flow in them drops. Blood pools in the legs because the one-way check valves are being overworked. The danger of developing a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) or SVT (Superficial Vein Thrombosis) rises when blood flow decreases. Leg discomfort and swelling are symptoms of a clot, which further restricts venous blood flow. Failure to recognize and treat the clots promptly can result in a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (PE) that needs urgent medical attention.
It’s not hard to understand how a lack of physical exercise and a sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate vascular disease, resulting in a snowball effect on your inactivity. After all, if you’re in the hospital, you’re confined to a bed, and if your legs ache, you probably won’t want to use them, creating a catch-22 situation.
Prolonged Standing or Sitting
Circulatory problems increase pressure on the legs, and the eventual development or worsening of varicose veins are all linked to prolonged sitting or standing. Varicose veins are not necessarily painful or uncomfortable, but they can produce leg cramps, leg swelling, and a heavy feeling in the legs in some people. Sometimes, if severe varicose veins go untreated, they will progress to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), a condition in which blood clots form in the deep venous system.
A blood clot that breaks off and travels to other parts of the anatomy can cause severe health issues or even death, so getting medical help right away is crucial. If your profession requires you to sit or stand for long periods, you should take extra care to avoid developing varicose veins and focus on vein health. Extended hours of standing at work might be a more significant contributor to varicose veins and nighttime leg cramps than gender-specific biological variations.
Adopting effective treatments that break up or limit the time spent standing on the job is necessary to minimize the possibility of varicose veins and related nighttime leg cramps. The first step in enhancing circulation is maintaining a healthy weight and exercising frequently.
Advice for those who Stand for Extended Periods
- Avoid wearing high-heeled footwear
- Shift your weight every few minutes from one leg to the other
- Sit down and elevate your legs whenever possible
Advice for those with Sedentary Lifestyles
- Make it a point to get up every thirty minutes and move around a bit
- Avoid sitting cross-legged for extended periods
- Elevate your legs whenever possible
Excessive Sodium Intake
A dash of salt enhances the flavor of every dish. That’s why it makes sense that it’s a staple in most of the food products we consume. Even the most exquisite delicacies likely include some salt. Small quantities of salt in different foods aren’t harmful to your health. Taking this into account, if your diet consists of excessive salt or you are sensitive to salt and unaware of it, that could lead to serious health problems.
The American Heart Association says that excessive sodium within your bloodstream attracts water into the blood vessels, causing them to hold more blood than they should. Ultimately, this raises blood pressure and stretches blood vessel walls over time. More importantly, it encourages plaque buildup on the vein’s inner walls resulting in blood flow blockage.
Vein disease is exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle and a salt-heavy diet. There is medical evidence that the sodium in salt contributes to fluid retention. Your veins will feel the effects of the increased blood volume and blood pressure. Swelling of the ankles and legs is a common symptom of fluid retention in the legs and feet, a condition that can exacerbate the presence of varicose veins. That’s why keeping your salt intake low is crucial for healthy veins.
We only need less than 2,300 mg of salt in our daily diet; however, most Americans consume more than 3,000 mg daily, putting them at risk of developing varicose veins and other health conditions.
Steps to Lower your Sodium Consumption
Although you might control salt intake from your home-cooked meals, most packaged food products contain some salt, and determining that quantity can be challenging. Here are some steps to reduce your sodium consumption:
- Check food labels to know their sodium content
- Avoid fast foods as most of them are sodium heavy
- Add more fresh vegetables and fruits to your diet, as you don’t have to worry about consuming salt through them
- When dining out, request the restaurant to eliminate/reduce salt in your meals
Irregular Sleep Habits
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is commonly linked to poor sleep patterns or chronic sleep deprivation, although researchers and doctors are still unsure of the precise causes. Your restless legs syndrome (RLS) may increase if you have a habit of falling asleep with the TV, lights, or music playing. Studies show a clear connection between RLS (restless legs syndrome), insomnia, and vascular disease.
Discomfort, heaviness, skin discoloration, swelling, cramping, and soreness after standing for a long time are some of the symptoms associated with varicose veins. Chronic leg discomfort might keep you awake all night, resulting in poor sleep quality and leading to other health problems.
If your varicose vein symptoms are moderate, you may only need to make some adjustments to your food and sleep schedule. Maintaining a healthy routine of quality sleep, a nutritious diet, consistent physical activity, and varicose vein treatment at a reputable vein clinic can help alleviate the discomfort associated with this venous disorder.
The modern lifestyle is about doing more, being faster, and stretching yourself to the limit. Although this is an aspect of 21st-century living, chronic stress that results from this lifestyle can affect your health in more ways than one, and vein health can also take a hit. Although stress is not a direct cause of varicose veins, it can worsen an existing condition.
Cortisol, a stress hormone linked to weight gain, may play a role in exacerbating existing symptoms of varicose veins. Cortisol’s primary function is to increase glucose metabolism in response to stress, signaling your body’s energy levels have dropped and need refueling. High-stress individuals may face issues if they constantly have high cortisol levels, which can cause hyperglycemia and rapid weight gain.
This is especially concerning when discussing varicose veins, as obesity and weight increases are among the most significant risk factors for developing these venous disorders. As a result, your blood vessels will weaken, and you may develop varicose veins in your legs. Varicose veins are not always noticeable in the early stages of development, especially for people battling obesity, as the fat masks their presence. This aspect might make the removal of the varicose veins more of a challenge during treatment at a vein clinic.
Varicose veins are not always noticeable in the early stages of development, especially for people struggling with obesity, as fat hides their presence. This aspect could make removing varicose veins more difficult during treatment at a vein clinic.
How to De-Stress Effectively
There are various lifestyle changes and exercises that you can include to alleviate stress in your daily life, and these include:
- Creating artwork
- Learning new skills
- Drinking sufficient water
- Eat nutritious food
These are excellent ways to reduce stress to help improve your venous condition. If you have already developed varicose veins, visit a vein clinic for appropriate care and treatment options.
The causes of chronic venous disease and the formation and progression of varicose veins are multifactorial. Studies show that women that led low-activity lifestyles and were obese developed varicose veins more than fitter, active women. In addition, there is substantial medical evidence that overweight or obese individuals are more prone to suffer from clinically severe venous disease.
The Link Between Obesity and Varicose Veins
Excess body weight exerts higher pressure on the abdomen, which can pressurize the leg veins, speeding up the buildup and progression of this venous disease, which can become chronic if left untreated for a more extended period. Fibrous and fatty tissue around the veins can also negatively impact venous circulation and hamper blood flow, ultimately leading to varicose vein formation.
How Obesity Can Hide Varicose Veins
Like any other health condition, timely treatment of varicose veins at a vein care office can help nip the venous condition in the bud, preventing it from becoming chronic. As mentioned earlier, obesity makes detecting and diagnosing varicose veins in their earliest stages more challenging.
While individuals of average weight might notice the twisted and bulging veins, people who are overweight will not. This can cause patients to delay seeing a doctor, placing obese people at a higher risk for problems and leg ulceration than people of average weight.
Veins in obese people tend to lie deep within the tissue; they are less visible, making an accurate diagnosis more complex, both of which can hamper effective treatment. In these cases, the specialist may use a duplex ultrasound scan for diagnosis because it allows them to visualize the veins beneath the skin without making any incisions.
Can Losing Weight Help Chronic Varicose Veins?
Although weight loss can slow the progression of existing varicose veins, it cannot eliminate them. Your varicose veins, if any, may become more evident as you shed pounds. There are several effective treatments for varicose veins. Still, reducing and maintaining a healthy weight is essential to avoid a recurrence of venous illness and other potentially fatal health issues associated with obesity.
How to prevent obesity-related Varicose Veins
There are many ways to maintain a healthy weight, and a balanced diet is a big part of the effort. Regular exercise is also essential; you can work out on a stationary bike or elliptical machine. Cardiovascular exercises are an excellent way to shed those pounds, and you should include some form of them in your exercise routine. In relation to this, if joint damage is a concern, water aerobics or swimming may be a better choice as the water cushions the body, reducing stress on your joints.
People can wear compression stockings to avoid varicose veins if their job entails long periods of sitting or standing since they encourage good circulation by delivering progressive pressure to the superficial veins. To improve blood circulation in the legs, you should elevate them multiple times daily and stretch your calves regularly.
The Habit of Smoking
Cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke contain toxic substances, and when you smoke, your heart has to pump more blood because of the direct effect of carbon monoxide and nicotine. Due to the increased workload, the body requires more oxygen, yet carbon monoxide depletes the oxygen supply in the blood.
When in perfect condition, your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood, and your arteries carry that blood to every part of your body. Your veins return the blood sans the oxygen to your heart and lungs to begin the process again. However, if you smoke, you increase your risk of developing venous illnesses.
Vein health is vital during the return journey of blood from the legs to the heart, where it must fight against gravity. Blood can pool in your veins (especially your legs) if their walls have weakened by smoking and there is a rupture in the one-way valves inside. Fortunately, many positive outcomes exist for smokers who give up the habit. Even if you’ve already done some damage to your veins by smoking, the specialists at a vein care office can treat them to fix the condition and get your blood moving freely again.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Excessive drinking has a detrimental impact on all the major organs in the body. It also affects the circulatory system, mainly when vein disease already affects it. Although alcohol consumption alone does not cause varicose veins, it can exacerbate an existing condition. Here’s some advice for those with varicose veins to drink sensibly and avoid worsening their circulation system issues.
How Alcohol Worsens the Condition of Varicose Veins
When you drink alcohol, your heart rate increases, and your blood circulates faster, increasing the pressure in the veins in your legs. It’s already hard for the heart to pump blood through the body’s veins, and alcohol stresses the liver, preventing it from filtering alcohol out of the blood. These adverse consequences of excessive alcohol consumption significantly exacerbate the stress on the veins that cause varicose veins. Even if the heart pumps blood faster, the valves and the capacity of the veins do not grow to accommodate the extra blood.
If you combine all of these risk factors, they aggravate the unpleasant symptoms of varicose veins. The veins will bulge and stick out even more, making your varicose veins more noticeable than they already were. If you have varicose veins or are at risk of developing them, you should limit your alcohol intake to avoid aggravating your condition. Doctors at a specialized vein clinic will recommend the best varicose vein treatment for leg veins.
Jobs that Increase the Risk of Varicose Veins
Did you realize that your profession can put you at risk for varicose veins? This condition may develop from prolonged sitting or standing, especially for longer than eight hours a day. Because the blood is always working against gravity, those who spend most of their time seated at a desk, answering phones, conducting research, or working on computers are at higher risk of developing varicose veins.
Varicose veins are also more common in those who stand for long periods, such as medical professionals, servers and bartenders, truck drivers, pilots, flight attendants, and business travelers. You can help prevent or lessen the severity of varicose veins by following simple measures every day:
- Elevate your feet as often as possible while sitting, as this will help reduce pressure on your feet and get blood flowing in your veins
- Wear compression stockings
- Do various leg exercises while at your desks, such as pointing your toes and alternate flexing to maintain good blood circulation in your legs
- Take a 5-minute break every hour to sit or walk to relieve cramps and muscle stress
- Avoid wearing restrictive underwear and clothing as it hinders blood flow
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks Wear flats instead of heels
- Keep a small stool at your work station while standing and alternate resting your feet on it
Dietary Choices to Prevent/Improve Varicose Veins
There are several preventable causes of varicose veins, but obesity is a major one. Obesity is not predetermined by hormones, heredity, or chronological age alone but also by a poor diet. You can maintain a healthy weight and treat varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis by following a healthy diet which includes :
- Avocados – This fruit is rich in vitamins C and E and Glutathione, which help your veins stay healthy
- Beets – Beets contain a phytochemical compound that helps reduce certain naturally-occurring amino acid levels in your body that can potentially attack blood vessels, making them more vulnerable to varicose
- Asparagus – This vegetable is packed with various vitamins, fiber, phosphorus, and other nutrients
Foods such as apples, buckwheat, cherries, and ginger are beneficial in improving and maintaining vein health, reducing the risk of varicose veins. Modifying your diet and including these foods in your daily diet to avoid vein treatment is not an uphill task; it will help keep your veins healthy.
Nutrients that can Help Reverse Varicose Vein Condition
As with many other health issues, prevention is better than cure for varicose veins. If you want to improve your circulation, consider adding more of these foods to your daily diet:
- Fruits rich in tannic acid but without anti-inflammatory or antioxidant qualities can help protect blood vessel walls from external pressures, reducing the potential for leakage.
- Foods rich in copper help bone development, improve circulation and maintain the balance of the immune system.
- Bioflavonoids are powerful anti-inflammatories that relieve the pain and swelling of varicose veins, while encouraging the growth of new cartilage within the vein walls. Foods like berries, pomegranates, celery, parsley, herbs, grapes, citrus fruits, apples, beans, Brussels sprouts, etc., are rich in bioflavonoids. Increasing your intake can help if you suffer from varicose veins.
- Onions are a source of energy, as they contain vitamin C, B6, potassium, calcium and fiber, which help our circulation effectively. Consuming more water helps stabilize the body’s blood volume, keeping it constant, helping to improve blood circulation and reducing the chances of developing varicose veins.
Exercises to Prevent/Improve Varicose Veins
Exercise won’t eliminate your varicose veins, but it can help lessen the pain you experience from them. Although there is no surefire strategy to keep from getting varicose veins, regular exercise can help boost circulation and tone muscles, thereby decreasing the probability that you will develop this condition. Here are some activities to prevent/improve damaged veins:
- Ankle rotations
- Leg lifts
- Calf raises
While it’s recommended that you do all you can to improve your everyday activity, suppleness, and circulation, you should be aware that some high-impact exercises may worsen your varicose veins. Consult a vein treatment specialist if your pain increases after doing any of these activities.
There is a wide range of modern, advanced ways to address varicose and spider veins, from laser treatments and Microfoam treatment to non-surgical, less invasive procedures like Sclerotherapy at a veins clinic. Experienced vein specialists can treat varicose and spider veins without aggressive traditional methods such as vein stripping.
Mark Medical Care Provides Specialized Varicose Vein Treatments
At Mark Medical Care, we offer safe and proven vein care and treatment options. Dr. Ron Mark and his team will use appropriate minimally invasive treatment to help alleviate and improve the symptoms of varicose veins.
No matter how severe or chronic your vein disease is, Dr. Mark is here to provide you with the best treatment at his vein treatment center. Our doctors and medical experts are fluent in English and Spanish, improving patient satisfaction as they are able to communicate with the patient in their preferred language.
For more information about varicose veins and minimally invasive procedures like laser treatment provided at our vein care center, call Mark Medical Care at 877-673-4818 or fill out this online contact form.