- Elevate your legs when possible, keeping your feet positioned higher than heart level.
- Exercise daily. Walking, climbing stairs, cycling and swimming keep your calf muscles in motion to activate the calf muscle pump. This reduces pooling and pressure in the veins.
- Move your legs frequently. Flexing your ankles periodically will pump the blood out of your legs (simulating walking). During periods of prolonged sitting or standing, flex your ankles 10 times and repeat this every 10 minutes. Try to avoid sitting for extended periods throughout your day.
- Support compression hose. These provide external graduated counter-pressure to aid in venous blood flow to the heart. They reduce pooling and pressure in the veins. They also may reduce the risk of forming a deep vein blood clot. Consider wearing them during long plane or car rides.
- Maintain your ideal body weight to reduce excess pressure on your legs.
- Avoid prolonged sitting and standing. On long car or plane trips activate your calf muscle pump by moving your feet up and down frequently as described above. You should also consider stopping for short walks every few hours.
- Avoid excessive heat on your legs, such as hot tubs and hot baths. Heat will tend to increase vein distention and lead to more pooling of blood.
In case a vein ruptures and starts to bleed it is advisable to immediately elevate your leg and compress the area. Contact your physician or seek emergency medical care immediately.
Cause of Varicose and Spider Veins
The below factors may play a part in the development of varicose and spider veins:
- Heredity - There is a significant relationship between heredity and the development of varicose veins and spider veins.
- Age - The development of varicose veins and spider veins may occur at any age but usually occurs between the ages of 18 and 35 years, and peaks between 50 and 60 years.
- Gender – Females are affected approximately four to one to males.
- Pregnancy – Pregnancy is a common factor contributing to the formation of varicose and spider veins. The most important factor is circulating hormones that weaken vein walls. There is also a significant increase in the blood volume during pregnancy. This tends to distend veins, causing valve dysfunction which leads to blood pooling in the veins. Additionally, later in pregnancy, the enlarged uterus can compress veins, causing higher vein pressure leading to dilated veins. Varicose veins that form during pregnancy may spontaneously improve or even disappear a few months after delivery.
- Lifestyle/Occupation - People who are involved with prolonged sitting or standing in their daily activities have an increased risk of developing varicose veins. Thus, the weight of the blood continuously pressing against the closed valves causes them to fail, leading to distention in the veins.
Lifestyle factors that may contribute to the development of varicose and spider veins are:
- Prolonged standing or sitting
- Binding clothing
- Chronic constipation
- Birth control pills/estrogen replacement therapy
- High-heeled shoes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Number of pregnancies