November is National Diabetes Month. As a type 2 diabetic, I have to be constantly alert to diabetes complications. One of these is varicose veins.
For two years now, I am fighting the onset of this very painful condition in my right leg. Thanks to the pain, I had to give up riding my two-wheeler. Awareness is everything when it comes to staying healthy, closely followed by taking action, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned about varicose veins.
Coping with varicose veins
Varicose veins are the large, ropy veins that often appear on the lower leg. For some people, varicose veins are a non-issue, they simply cover them up with long pants and dark tights, or they flash them with style. For others, however, they can be a source of embarrassment and even shame. This is due in large part to the fact that these veins are associated with age and are considered unattractive. Varicose veins can also be painful, causing swelling and throbbing in the legs as well as itching.
Most people consider varicose veins a sad fact of life, but that is simply not true. There are treatments and remedies that can reduce the appearance of these veins, and relieve the pain, swelling and itching.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins are usually caused by poor circulation in the lower leg. Instead of flowing smoothly, the blood pools in the leg causing the veins to swell. When this happens to the veins just under the surface of the skin, they develop the large, ropy appearance common to varicose veins.
There are several reasons why your circulation could be obstructed including:
- Standing or sitting for long periods
- Damage to the veins
- Certain circulatory conditions
Learning more about the cause of your varicose veins can go a long way toward helping you cope, and finding the right solution.
Lifestyle changes can’t cure varicose veins, but they can relieve the symptoms. These changes include:
- Avoiding standing for long periods
- Avoiding sitting for long periods
- Avoiding crossing your legs
- Elevating your legs while you sleep
- Regular cardiovascular exercise
- Reducing your sodium intake
- Eating a healthful diet
- Losing weight
You can affect these lifestyle changes while you are learning about your varicose veins, however you should consult a physician before starting an exercise program.
Natural remedies are designed to relieve many of the symptoms. Some of these remedies are applied directly to the skin on and around the affected area, others may come in the form of teas or supplements designed to address the problem from the inside. They can include essential oils, herbs like butcher’s broom, and vitamins.
Natural remedies are available from a variety of sources including online retailers, natural food stores, and your neighborhood drug store. You can use these remedies while you relieve the pain, itching, and swelling.
It is important though that you not simply rely on symptom relief when it comes to varicose veins. Sometimes the veins are, themselves, symptomatic of a larger issue or condition. This is why it is incredibly important to learn what is causing your varicose veins. Finding out their root cause could be the key to improving other areas of your health.
Compression Socks and Stockings
Compression garments are designed to improve circulation by applying gentle, graduated pressure to the legs. They tend to start tighter at the ankle, and then gradually loosen as they go up to encourage the blood to flow up the legs and back toward the heart. Encouraging blood flow can also relieve the swelling and itching by relieving the pressure on the veins.
Compression garments are available from online sources, medical supply stores, and drug stores.
Compression garments are often prescribed as treatments for varicose veins, which means you can use them while you are learning about your condition, and after you have determined the cause as part of your overall treatment plan.
When I consulted my doctor about the pain – and he diagnosed it as the onset of varicose veins, he recommended compression socks. Somehow, I just can’t see myself in them. I preferred to focus on lifestyle changes and natural remedies.
Laser Vein Treatments
Laser vein treatments cauterize the varicose veins to prevent blood from flowing through them. After the treatment the veins eventually shrink and disappear. Laser vein treatments are less invasive, and have fewer side-effects than older treatments like surgery to remove the damaged veins, and a process called sclerotherapy where foam is injected into the vein.
Laser vein treatments are only available through a licensed provider and are performed as an outpatient procedure. Laser treatments are the most expensive option, but are also the only option for completely curing the condition.
You can have laser vein treatments while you do the homework on treatment options. However, it’s still a good idea to find out the cause of your varicose veins to prevent them from happening again.
Cosmetic cover-ups reduce the appearance of varicose veins, but they don’t usually relieve the symptoms. In addition to the dark tights and stockings mentioned above, they can also include self-tanners and leg makeup.
You can find cosmetic cover-ups at drug stores and through online retailers.
You can use cosmetic cover-ups while you are researching your varicose veins, and in conjunction with the other options listed. However, make sure you consult your physician if you plan to use them after a laser vein treatment.