Varicose veins are the dilated, enlarged veins that have become overfilled with blood. This condition is also known as varicoses or varicosities, and often painful. Varicose veins appear swollen and raised, with a bluish-purple or red color.
It can develop in any superficial vein but mostly occurs in the leg veins. The problems due to varicose vary from mild irritation to pain and discomfort. It can sometimes lead to more serious issues. Around 25 percent of adults have experienced varicose veins and the condition is more common in women.
A varicose vein is caused due to weak or damaged valves. The blood vessels include arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body, and veins carry the blood from the rest of the body to the heart. The veins in the legs work against gravity to circulate or return blood to the heart.
Contractions of muscles in the lower legs act as pumps while the elastic vein walls help return blood to the heart. The valves in the veins prevent the blood from flowing backward, as they open when blood flows toward the heart and close to stop the blood. When these valves become weak or damaged, it affects the blood flow and allows it to pool in the vein. This results in stretching or twisting of the veins.
As it is a common problem that can affect any individual, it is best to take precautions for and prevent their development. Fortunately, there are some simple lifestyle changes or ways that a person can incorporate to prevent the condition from arising or worsening.
Dietary changes The food you eat plays an important role in the health of your veins. Including food items that increase your blood flow is a good way to prevent vascular problems. For example, replacing white flour with multi-grain or whole wheat, white rice with brown, and other such healthy items. Limiting the intake of processed sugar and adding fruits and vegetables with natural sugars is also advisable. This is because processed sugar adds more stress to the vascular system, increasing the chances of developing varicose veins.
According to a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center, USA, foods rich in “rutin” such as blackberries, apples, apricot, and grapes, help the circulation system perform better.
Exercise Regularly Being active and exercising is very important for overall health and is usually suggested by the doctor, if it’s safe for you. Increasing the activity level can improve blood circulation in the legs. Simply walking or cycling for 30 minutes for 5 days a week can help keep your veins healthy. However, some types of exercise, including lifting weights, running, and yoga can put stress on the veins, as they lead to a backup of blood flow. Sometimes, the doctor may suggest you from restricting or avoiding those activities if you are at risk of developing vascular problems.
Long periods of standing or sitting can cause blood to pool in the veins of legs. This may lead to the development or worsening of the varicose veins symptoms.
Avoid Smoking Smoking is the cause or risk factor for many health problems, including cardiac and vascular problems. Vein disease is among these potential problems. It may lead to poor circulation, which ultimately causes venous insufficiencies. Smoking also increases the risk of disease-related to the arteries.
Avoid Salt Salt cantains sodium that can cause retention of water in the body and may contribute to varicose veins. Build up of excess fluid in the legs leads to swelling and put more pressure on the veins.
Do not wear tight clothing and high heels Tight clothing such as body shapers, knee socks with tight elastic, and even snug fit belts can restrict the flow of blood from the legs to the heart. This may result in the pooling of the blood. Also, wearing high-heeled shoes for a long duration can restrict the blood flow in the legs. This can worsen the condition of varicose veins.
Varicose vein treatment
There are several options for the treatment of varicose veins, ranging from lifestyle changes, compression to surgery.
Special compression socks or stockings are used to place enough pressure on the legs to allow the blood to flow more easily towards the heart. This may also help decrease swelling.
Surgery for varicose vein treatment is recommended when the patient experiences pain or it impacts the overall health of the person. Varicose vein surgery usually involves removing the varicose vein by the surgeon through the incision made on the skin. Vein ligation and stripping are the common surgeries for this condition. Varicose vein surgery cost is not too expensive, and is even more affordable in popular medical tourism destinations such as India, but with good quality.
Other methods such as sclerotherapy involve the injection of a solution or foam into the small and medium-sized varicose veins to scar and close those veins.
Image credit: https://www.lyfboat.com/