Simple life-style changes can ease the pain of varicose veins considerably and may even prevent the condition from deteriorating. However, consult your physician if your varicose veins fail to respond to the following self care measures, or if you’re concerned with their unsightly appearance.Lifestyle Changes for Managing Varicose Veins
Eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet that is rich in fresh fruit, vegetables and fish and low in refined carbohydrates. Avoid processed and fried foods, sugar and junk food.
Reduce salt intake as excess salt in the diet may make swelling worse. Fiber-rich foods such as bran cereals and whole grain bread are particularly important as they help promote regularity and prevent constipation, which can aggravate varicose veins.
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Compression Stockings and Support Hose
Wear elastic stockings to support the varicose veins and prevent swelling.
Ideally, they should be worn all day. Compression stockings can make a big difference as they “squeeze” your legs continuously and help the veins in your legs to move blood back to the heart more efficiently.
Low-impact exercise is good for overall circulation and can have a major impact on weight loss. This type of exercise can also help prevent constipation.Try walking, swimming and cycling, or any form of exercise that involves moving you legs and working your calf muscles.
One of the best ways to manage varicose veins is to maintain a healthy weight. Too much weight on the legs restricts blood flow to the heart, can cause the formation of blood clots, and lead to DVT.
Smoking raises blood pressure and damages veins and arteries. Quit now!
Yoga, relaxation, deep breathing, and stretching exercises can be particularly helpful for managing varicose veins. Positions, such as the “half shoulder stand” and the “plow” help promote circulation and move blood from the legs. Yoga’s deep breathing exercises also increase oxygen in the bloodstream.
Regular massage by a trained massage therapist can significantly reduce the discomfort and pain associated with varicose veins. Massage therapy involves the use of essential oils to massage the legs up to the hips, following the course of the lymphatic system. If you use essential oils to massage yourself, it is important never to massage directly on the site of the varicose veins.
Wear loose clothing, especially around the waist, leg and groin areas. Tight garments such as panty-girdles and pantyhose are likely to restrict blood flow to the heart.
Avoid high-heeled shoes. They can seriously decrease the pumping ability of the calf muscle and inhibit blood flow to the heart.
Pressure on Leg Muscles
Avoid any activity that puts pressure on the legs, such as lifting heavy loads.
Elevate Your Legs
Take several short rests during the day to elevate your legs above heart level. This simple action can help reduce swelling and pain and may even prevent varicose veins in the first place! If you can, lie on a “slant board” for 10-minute intervals several times a day.
Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. When standing, make sure that you keep shifting your weight from one leg to the other. Also, when sitting for extended periods, always remember to put your feet up to aid circulation.
Avoid Crossing Your Legs
Not only does crossing your legs put pressure on the veins, but it also restricts blood flow to the heart.
Avoid scratching the itchy skin above varicose veins as it can cause ulceration and bleeding.
Standing in a tub of cold water for short periods can help improve circulation and relieve pain and swelling. Also, “sitz” baths may help relieve the pain of hemorrhoids. To improve the circulation and decongest the veins, try adding hot and cold water to a bath at approximately one to three minute intervals.
Hot and Cold Compresses
For immediate pain relief, try using alternating hot and cold compresses. This can be particularly effective on leg varicose veins.
A Helpful Nutritional Supplement
Increasingly, nutritional supplements are being prescribed in conjunction with other forms of more traditional treatment for varicose veins. Coenzyme Q10, in particular, is recognized for improving tissue oxygenation and blood circulation, however, its efficacy in improving varicose veins is so far strictly anecdotal.
Always consult a qualified professional before taking NSAID medication. Over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen are commonly recommended for the treatment of the inflammation of varicose veins.
Nutritional supplements such as vitamin E are known to aid circulation, vitamin A to improve immunity, and vitamin C to reduce blood clotting and help strengthen the vein walls. Vitamin C is more effective if taken in combination with flavonoids (powerful antioxidants). Flavonoids improve the way in which the body uses vitamin C.
Other helpful nutritional supplements include vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin D, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Bio-flavonoids help prevent bruising. Useful bio-flavonoids for the treatment of varicose veins include rutin (found in buckwheat, citrus fruit, rose hips, apricots, cherries, blueberries and blackberries) and quertin.