A family history of varicose veins is the single biggest risk factor for varicose veins. About half of all people who have varicose veins have a family history of them, and children with two parents with varicose veins have a 90% chance of developing them in their life.
If varicose veins run in your family, there are a few steps you can take to minimize your risk of getting them yourself.
Diet and Exercise
Obesity is another major cause of varicose veins, and being overweight will exacerbate your risk of varicose veins. Maintaining a healthy weight is of course important for a multitude of reasons, but a proper weight prevents extra pressure from being put on the veins, which often worsens or speeds up the development of varicose veins.
Regular exercise improves leg strength, vein strength, and overall circulation, all of which can reduce your risk of developing varicose veins or exacerbating ones that are already present. A diet rich in fiber and low in salt prevents other health issues, such as constipation, that can contribute to varicose veins.
For many, workdays consist of long periods of either standing or sitting. Extended periods of sitting or standing can limit blood circulation, worsening the symptoms of varicose veins.
If you’re seated while at work, take a break every 30 minutes to take a walk and keep blood flowing through your legs. While seated, don’t cross your legs for extended periods of time. While crossing legs doesn’t cause varicose veins (despite what you may have read), it can worsen varicose veins that are already present. If possible, keep your legs raised above your heart while sitting, resting, or sleeping.
If you’re standing for long periods at work, try to take a break every 30 minutes to sit down. If that’s not possible, transfer your weight between your legs to give each of them an intermittent break. Additionally, avoid wearing high heels for long periods. Lower heels help tone calf muscles and reduce pressure on your legs.
There are some clothing options that can help prevent or alleviate symptoms of varicose veins. Avoid especially tight clothing, especially around the waist and pelvis. Additionally, talk to your doctor about compression hose or stockings. Compression stockings keep consistent, gentle pressure on the legs, keeping blood from pooling in the veins and decreasing swelling in the legs. Higher-strength stockings require a doctor’s prescription, but lower-strength stockings and spandex are available at your local department store.
If you have a family history of varicose veins, it is important to get screened by a vein specialist to determine if you are developing varicose veins or venous reflux disease. It’s important to catch varicose vein symptoms early, as treatment is easier and more effective if it’s caught early. An ultrasound is a common screening test for leg venous circulation, which is a non-invasive method.
If you do have a family history of varicose veins and are developing varicose veins and are already developing symptoms, please contact Austin Vein Specialists online or call 512-339-9100.