Our parents probably have those blue purple veins on the legs. They are varicose veins.
Before I talk about how not to have them, let’s find out what exactly are them.
Whare Are Varicose Veins and What Causes Them?
We have veins and arteries which are tubes carrying blood in our body, from brain to toes. Our hearts are the engines pumping the blood. When our hearts beat, they pumps blood and moves it through all those little tubes. Arteries carry the blood from heart out to body whereas veins carry blood from body back to heart.
The blood leaving the heart in arteries is full of oxygen, which makes the blood bright red. The blood coming back from body to heart in the veins is darker, which is purplish color since our body parts have used up the oxygen in the blood.
As people get older, some blood can stay in a vein instead of moving forward like it supposed to. Vein will swell up and that swollen vein is a varicose vein. Varicose vein appears on legs, ankles and feet because those body parts are farthest from the heart. Gravity pulls blood down into our legs and feet when we are standing up. Therefore, veins have to work hard to help pushing the blood back up to the heart.
To do that, veins have valves that help keep the blood flowing in the right direction. Valves are like tiny doors that close after the blood has passed through to keep blood moving along and to make sure it does not flow backward. As people get older, though, the valves wear out as well. When that happens, some blood can be clogged in the vein instead of moving forward like it should. This makes the vein swell up, and that swollen vein is a varicose vein.
In some cases, you will see “spider veins”. Spider veins are the dilation of a small group of blood vessels located close to the skin surface.
Other than the complain of appearance, most varicose veins are harmless. Just like gray hair that grow with age, varicose veins not a sign of illness or disease.
Who May Have Varicose Veins?
Many women have them, especially the elderly. These veins are often genetic. So, if your mother or sister has them, you may have them too when you get older. Men have them too, just that the ratio is about 1 to 4.
Others groups who may have varicose veins:
- People who need to stand or sit for long hours
- Overweight folks
- Pregnant women
How To Prevent or Minimize Varicose Veins:
- Get your blood moving with regular exercise. Keeping your body fit will just simply keep your veins fit too. Choose an exercise which involves calf muscle such as jogging, fast walk, swimming or stair climbing.
- Yoga is quite effective to treat varicose veins, especially the pose of sarvangasana (shoulder stand). The legs are inverted and therefore the gravity is pulling the blood back from legs to the heart. Hold the position 3 to 5 minutes. Do this pose once a daily.
If you are not able to do that pose or you have high blood pressure, modify the pose: lie on the flat floor, place your legs in an inverted position on the flat surface of a wall. Place a rolled towel or small pillow under your neck for support.
- Ensure you are not overweight. Extra weight puts additional pressure on your legs.
- Do not stand still or sit for long hours without moving around.
- If you have to sit for long hours, you can alternate your feet position by resting your feet on a box under your desk. A better approach will be get up every 20 minutes and walk around.
- Also, do not cross your legs while sitting. Leg crossing tends to put pressure on the veins and may prevent proper blood circulation.
- The other trick – right after your bath or shower, rub your skin with a towel to make the blood in the veins flow much faster.
- Do not take cold showers immediately after workout. Your body has just been heated up and your legs are tired. Splashing cold water immediately shocks the veins of the legs. If you have to take shower immediately after exercising, use warm water first as to not shock your legs so drastically.
- If you have a tendency towards the development of varicose veins, buy a good pair of compression stockings if you will be sitting for prolonged periods of time. The gentle pressure of these stockings help to promote venous return to the heart which helps to prevent varicose veins. Though support hose ensure the pressure is evenly distributed on legs, avoid wearing tight clothes at your waist, groin or legs to ensure better blood circulation.
- When you sleep at night, elevate your legs with a wedge or a pillow.
- Wear low-heeled shoes.
For people who can afford, here are few ways to get rid of the varicose veins:
- Doctors can zap them with light from special laser. Traditionally, laser surgery was used mainly for smaller veins in the face, but nowadays, the newly developed technology have been used for veins at legs too. Multiple treatments are required to fully “cure” the veins.
- The other cure is sclerotherapy which the doctors inject fluid into the vein that makes it shrivel up. After few months, the appearance of those affected veins should fade. However, veins may need to be reinjected.
Say good bye to varicose veins!
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