There are multiple varicose veins causes and it is wrong to think that this is solely a condition of old age. Varicose veins can often run in families but they are also a common affliction of shop workers and bar staff as they can caused by standing up for extended periods of time, as well as being an unwelcome side effect of pregnancy due to increased blood volume and the relaxation of vein muscle walls as a consequence of hormonal changes.
In order to force blood back to the heart, our veins have a series of valves that act as a one way door that prevent the blood from responding to gravity and flowing back towards the ground to pool in our lower extremities. A varicose vein is caused when one of these valves fails, causing the blood to flow back and causing the vein walls to be stretched out of shape. This occurs in the superficial veins near the surface of the skin which are the unsightly dark lumps and bumps that we associate with the condition.
There are a number of factors that can increase your likelihood of developing varicose veins:
You are a woman
Statistically women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men, thought to be brought about by the muscle relaxing properties of female hormones. These hormones make the vein walls more likely to stretch.
You work in retail or catering
Chefs, waiters, bar staff and shop workers often describe varicose veins as an occupational hazard and can significantly increase your risk of developing the condition. The main common factor to all of these professions is the need to spend significant amounts of time standing up which can have a negative impact on how efficiently your circulation works.
Other family members have developed them
It is believed that variances in genetic makeup can tend some families towards developing varicose veins.
You are overweight
Excess weight makes it more difficult to your blood to circulate properly and increases the pressure on the veins which makes it much more likely that the veins will leak. It is also possible that you have higher blood pressure which also contributes towards stretching the veins and damaging the valves that are critical to preventing varicose veins.
You are pregnant
As previously mentioned, varicose veins are a common side effect of pregnancy for a variety of reasons. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the body increases to support the growth of the baby which places inevitable additional strain on the circulatory system.
Secondly the heightened levels of estrogen and progesterone cause the muscle walls to relax making the veins more likely to leak. Finally around the 13 or 14 weeks of pregnancy the weight increase that is part and parcel of having a baby will again increase your chances of developing varicose veins.
You are inactive
Regular exercise is believed to be a significant factor in keeping varicose veins at bay as having a strong circulatory system prevents the pooling that leads to varicose veins. Some of the causes of varicose veins lie outside a person’s control, however like with so many other conditions, maintaining a healthy weight and staying active can have a genuine preventative effect.
How to Prevent Varicose Veins
No one wants to get varicose veins and there are a number of ways of preventing varicose veins from appearing or reappearing if you have had treatment to repair or remove them. While pregnancy, hormonal changes or an underlying family predisposition to the condition may make varicose veins hard to avoid, there is a lot you can do to help fight them off. If you know that you are already at high risk, because you have already had varicose veins or close family members have already had significant problems, try wearing compression stockings or tights. Because the way the legs are squeezed by the stockings, you can ensure that no undue pressure is being placed on your venous valves and your circulation is being properly supported. They need to be worn from the moment you get up until you go to bed at night which may not always be practical.
Following a sensible diet and exercise regime has an important role to play in the prevention of varicose veins. Exercising regularly by simply getting out for a thirty minute brisk walk four times a week can really make a difference to your cardiovascular health in general as well as strengthening your legs muscles which also improves the circulation. Be sure to consult your doctor before you start a program of exercise if you have any other health problems. A diet that is rich in bioflavonoids, Vitamin C and Vitamin E goes a long way towards preventing varicose veins as these vitamins and antioxidants are instrumental in repairing and strengthening veins and capillaries.
Be sure to include dark berry fruits like cherries and black currants in your diet (as these are a great source of bioflavonoids and vitamin C) as well as lots of other fresh fruit and vegetables and watch your salt intake to ensure that you are not damaging your heart and circulatory system with an excessively high intake. It is also very important to keep your weight down as extra body fat puts too much pressure on the legs and can cause varicose veins to appear. If you can avoid standing for extended periods of time, make sure you do. However even if your job does require you to stand for 85% of your working day, there are still ways to lessen the risk of developing varicose veins. When you are standing still, make sure you move your weight from one foot to the other, walk about when you get the opportunity and raise your heels up and down several times an hour to get the blood pumping properly in your legs. It also pays to remember that when you get to the end of a long day of standing, make sure you put your feet up (preferably above heart level) for at least an hour.
Likewise, if you have a sedentary job that involves sitting down for extended periods during the day, remember to get up and walk around a couple of times an hour as this again will encourage the blood in your legs to flow properly and remember to rotate your ankles. It is also worth noting that crossing your legs at the knee can also severely impede efficient blood flow so cross your legs at the ankle instead. Make sure that when sitting and relaxing at night, you have your feet up as this reduces the strain on the veins. What you wear is also important. Tight clothes that restrict blood flow can increase the risk of varicose veins, and so do high heels. Walking in heels works the buttock muscles rather than the calf muscles which means that the massaging action of walking is lost. If you know you are in danger of developing varicose veins it might be best to stick to low heeled shoes.
Natural help To get rid of Varicose Veins
There are a number of techniques available that provide natural help for varicose veins that do not involve pills, chemicals or medical interventions. In recent years, many people have sought to find more holistic ways of treating themselves that lie outside of conventional medicine and there are many techniques that, while they may not make your varicose veins go away, they also will not make them worse and may give you with some much needed relief from aching and discomfort. That said, it is also worth bearing in mind that if you are experiencing major pain, there is bleeding or bruising or you have developed a skin problem like varicose eczema or an ulcer, it is advisable that you seek appropriate medical treatment to prevent these conditions from getting worse.
Yoga can be a major help in relieving the symptoms and discomfort of varicose veins and you do not need to do outrageous, “tied up in a knot” postures to reduce your symptoms. Although postures that encourage the blood to drain from the legs are the most obvious means of obtaining relief from the condition, it is believed that the deep breathing that you engage in as part of your yoga practice helps to oxygenate the blood which means that your circulation is working more effectively. The yoga postures that are of most benefit to varicose vein sufferers are those where the feet are above heart level which helps the blood drain back towards the heart as it is meant to, and can also help reduce swelling. Though it is advisable to speak to a proper yoga teacher, there are plenty of resources available on the internet, as well as videos and books that mean that you can do yoga at home without outside assistance. However as is true of any form of new exercise, consult a medical professional if you have any concerns.
Hydrotherapy can be one of a number of ways of reducing discomfort that involves the use of heat and cold, eliminating the need for pills to relieve pain. Cold compresses applied to the affected area can often help to reduce swelling and discomfort, while alternating between hot and cold baths is believed to stimulate the circulation. This involves two buckets of water, one that is bearably hot (so be sure to test it with an elbow first to ensure that you will not get scalded) and one that is cold which should of a depth that will cover most of your lower leg. Aromatherapy oils or Epsom Salts can also be added to the water to make the process more pleasant and you will need to repeat this treatment once a day for about a month. It is important to note however, that if you suffer from diabetes make sure you use warm, rather than hot water as diabetics tend to be more likely to suffer from scalds due to problems with the nerves in the leg.
Another common sense way to help varicose veins is to lead a healthier lifestyle, with a diet that is rich in fruit (particularly dark berry fruits like blackberries and cherries) and vegetables. It is also important that your food is low in saturated fats and salt as both of these have a well documented negative effect on venous and cardiovascular health, as well as maintaining a healthy weight. Exercising regularly and not smoking, which also has a negative effect on cardiovascular health as it causes the blood vessels to harden and constrict and reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood stream, will also help. While this cannot be described as a magic bullet that will cure or prevent varicose veins, it does mean that you are doing everything you can to stay in tip top health.