The primary symptom of varicose veins is easy to identify – highly visible, swollen veins which can cause skin discoloration. But why do some people get them, and others don’t? And if you have them, how do you fix varicose veins and make them go away?
Varicose veins are twisted enlarged veins generally occurring in the legs and feet. They affect up to 30 per cent of the Australian population and often appear blue or dark purple in colour. They develop due to damaged vein valves which are no longer able to sufficiently circulate blood back up to the heart.
Some people experience no symptoms at all whilst others may experience all, or some, of the below. In general, vein pain is considered vague and dull rather than sharp or immediate. If you raise your legs and the pain goes away, this is an indication your pain is vein related.
- Pain, itching or heaviness in the legs.
- Burning, throbbing or muscle cramping.
- Pain that intensified after prolonged sitting or standing.
- Chronic swelling in the lower legs or ankles.
While in many cases, varicose veins are purely aesthetic, they can be symptomatic of more serious issues that can have a long-term effect on your health.
At the very least, they can often leave your legs looking worse for wear and have you reaching for the trousers or full dress, even in summer time.
How do you fix varicose veins?
Thankfully varicose veins can be managed and treated relatively easily. There are three main ways to deal with varicose veins, depending on your legs.
While you can’t 100 per cent prevent varicose veins from occurring, by taking the right steps you’ll minimise the odds and give your body the best chance to recover if it does happen.
Here are a few great ways to reduce the risk of varicose veins forming in the first place.
Regular exercise: This helps to keep blood flowing, get the muscles pumping to the veins and ease the load on your legs. Walk at least 20 minutes a day to see a great benefit.
Diet: Cutting down on saturated and trans fats and sugars helps to lower the strain on your veins, while eating more plant based foods like berries, seeds, leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli and other vegetables helps to boost your circulation.
Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight (within 10kgs of ideal BMI) is a great way to take the strain off your veins and improve circulation.
If you’re female, over 60 or have a family history of vein issues, you’re at much higher risk, so it’s extra important to lower the risk.
Medical grade compression stockings are clinically proven beyond a doubt to reduce the risk of varicose veins, boost compression and minimise swelling and leg pain.
Wearing these compression stockings, especially during extended periods being seated (office work, long travel trips) or standing (retail, hospitality, chefs) helps lower the risk of varicose veins, while also being one of the key ways of treating any existing.
If you already have varicose veins, it’s important to still practice steps of prevention to stop it getting worse as well as minimising the chance of recurrence.
However, medical treatment and removal of the varicose vein can help to restore the physical appearance of the legs, as well as reduce the likelihood of something more serious occurring.
Speak to your GP or a vein specialist to explore your options.
Learn more: Varicose vein treatment
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