Varicose veins are large, bulging veins that can be blue, red, or flesh colored. They are caused by damaged veins, backup of blood, hormone changes, exposure to the sun, injuries, or genetics. Many people, particularly women, begin to suffer from varicose veins later in life.
About 50 to 55 percent of women and 40 to 45 percent of men in the United States suffer from some type of vein problem. Varicose veins affect half of people 50 years and older. How can you prevent varicose veins?
Not all varicose and spider veins can be prevented—often they are the result of genetics. There are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting new varicose and spider veins and minimize discomfort from existing veins:
- Exercise and avoid sitting or standing for too long. Moving around decreases pressure on the veins and improves circulation. If you spend all day sitting at a desk, try moving your feet, bending your knees, or stretching your ankles to get the blood flowing.
- Eat well. Weight gain and obesity cause higher pressure inside the veins. Avoid foods high in salt and include foods high in fiber and potassium. Drink plenty of water — proper hydration means healthy blood circulation.
- Wear compression stockings. These can prevent the progression of varicose veins and some doctors actually recommend wearing compression stockings for a few weeks before a more invasive type of treatment.
If you have developed varicose veins or are afraid you might due to genetics or lifestyle habits, you can try home treatment and lifestyle modifications to improve either their appearance or your chances of developing them and to alleviate any discomfort.
If varicose veins are causing leg pain, swelling, changes in the color of the skin on the legs or ankles or sores that do not heal easily, it is important to seek medical attention to avoid any possible complications.