The word “varicose” means enlarged or swollen. Varicose veins appear as large, gnarled knots along legs and feet. They not just a cosmetic concern, but can also pose some serious health dangers, such as blood clots and other circulatory problems. It helps to know these important facts about this condition:
1. The American Society for Vascular Surgery estimates that 40 million Americans have varicose veins. Statistics further show that women are more prone to the condition than men: 33% of women and 17% of men in the USA are affected.
2. The most common cause of varicose veins is standing or sitting for long periods. Over time, this results in the weakening of the walls of the veins, allowing blood to pool in the veins instead of being pumped back to the heart.
3. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, obesity and pregnancy place increased pressure on the veins, heightening a person’s risk of developing the condition. Therefore, regular exercise and controlling weight can help prevent varicose veins.
4. While varicose veins can often be managed successfully by wearing compression stockings, you should see a doctor if your leg suddenly becomes swollen, develops a tender lump or an open sore, or starts bleeding.
5. Experts at the Harvard Medical School advise a simple precaution against varicose veins: Several times a day, take a 15-minute rest with your legs raised above the level of your heart so that your veins don’t have to work against gravity.They also warn against sitting with the legs crossed.
6. It might surprise you to know that constipation has been liked to varicose veins–putting strain during defecation places pressure on the veins. That is why, experts at the University of Maryland Medical Center advise eating foods rich in dietary fiber, such as beans and whole grains. This helps regulate bowel movement, easing pressure on the legs.
7. Michael Castleman, author of “The New Healing Herbs,” says the herb gotu kola improves blood flow through the lower limbs, helping to prevent varicose veins. While concurring with this recommendation, many experts suggest avoiding gotu kola if you have a liver condition, since it can interact with many medications that are processed by the liver.