It’s thought that over two-thirds of the population will experience varicose veins at some point in their lives. One of the most common questions we get asked here at the Midwest Institute of Non-surgical Therapy (MINT) is ‘Can varicose veins get worse?’
In this post, we’ll set out to answer this question and give you plenty of helpful hints and tips for eradicating many of the painful or debilitating symptoms associated with the condition.
As already stated, varicose veins are a very common complaint and one that has the propensity to become exaggerated due to certain health factors or conditions such as
- Liver congestion
- Hormonal imbalances
- Malnutrition and,
So yes, varicose veins can become worse!
With this in mind, let’s talk about how these factors can influence the problem of worsening varicose veins and how you can take personal action to reduce the risk starting with…
If you think about it, being overweight places an enormous amount of pressure on your circulatory system including your veins. As such its highly likely that they will struggle to keep up with the demands of your body. Conditions like high blood pressure are commonplace and when blood is pumped forcefully at too high a pressure it can damage the lining of the arteries and rupture the blood vessels. In turn, this can increase the levels of stress experienced by the veins, thus worsening your symptoms.
The connection between varicose veins and liver congestion is not always apparent. However, when you consider the role the liver plays in vital functions such as detoxifying the body, filtering blood and absorbing nutrients, then the connection becomes a little more obvious.
Take the portal vein for instance – this is the main blood vessel used to transport blood to the liver. When the vein is working properly, it continually carries blood from the gastrointestinal tract up to the liver where it is filtered and processed. When it becomes damaged or impaired it can cause a blood flow bottle-neck. This, in turn, can cause enlarged or ‘varicose’ blood vessels in the stomach area.
In addition, when the liver is overwhelmed it can also lead to constipation. This may then lead to hemorrhoids – a painful venous swelling in the lower part of the rectum.
If you suffer from liver congestion or are overweight/obese then chances are that you might also be at risk of being malnourished. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t getting sufficient food. Instead, the food you are consuming doesn’t contain the right balance of important nutrients. Minerals like zinc or anti-oxidants like vitamin C are vital for liver function, digestion, and blood circulation.
An insufficient amount of fiber in a diet, for example, may cause digestive complaints like constipation, which, as already stated, can lead to hemorrhoids – a type of varicose vein. Vitamin E is another case in point. It’s a key substance in the production of red blood cells. Typically Vitamin E is found in foods like sunflower seeds and almonds and can work to reduce blood clots and blood stagnation associated with many varicose vein problems.
We know that the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone can have a big effect on the body. But when levels of hormones increase or decrease – usually around the time of menstruation or menopause – they can cause problems for veins. Too much estrogen, for example, could cause blood clotting and can even thin or weaken the walls of the veins. On the contrary, too little progesterone can weaken the vein valves which can, in turn, lead to varicose veins.
It’s understandable that painful symptoms of varicose veins can stop a person from being active, but this is in effect a vicious circle. An inactive or sedentary lifestyle for any period of time can cause a stagnation of blood which may, in turn, cause varicose veins to worsen. Exercise is a vital component in keeping blood flow moving through the veins and even partaking in gentle exercise is enough to stimulate a healthy flow of blood.
So now you know that varicose veins can worsen and what causes it, let’s take a closer look at how you can better manage the problem…
Eating a varied and healthy diet – Eating a well-balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals will help to give you the nutritional and hormonal balance you need to support your circulatory system. This should ultimately lead to better vein health.
Reducing your sugar intake – Consuming too many sugary foods and drinks triggers high amounts of glucose. This can cause veins to become brittle leading to a whole host of vein- related problems. Of course, cutting sugar out altogether is the best way forward, but if you do have a sweet tooth and can’t do without sugar the American Heart Association has some solid guidelines on safe amounts of sugar intake per day.
Drinking plenty of water – Proper hydration plays an important role in facilitating better blood flow throughout the body so try to consume around 8 x 8-ounce glasses – approximately 2 liters of water a day. As a general rule of thumb, if your urine is amber or honey-colored, you probably aren’t drinking enough water. A light straw color or pale yellow usually signifies the right amount of hydration.
Compression socks – Compression socks place sustained pressure on the legs which in turn keeps blood flowing and prevents pooling or stagnation – a common sign in varicose veins. If you have been prescribed compression socks, you may need to wear them indefinitely in order to reduce the signs of discomfort and swelling that varicose veins can cause.
Getting regular exercise – Exercise boosts circulation which in turn prevents circulatory problems. If you have problems exercising, gentle exercise like swimming, walking, and pilates are good because they avoid placing your body under too much pressure.
If you do have varicose veins then it’s good to know that you don’t have to suffer. Here at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT) Dr. Akinwande and the team have a number of treatments designed to assist you. Contact our highly-skilled medical team for a consultation to see just how we can help you with our comfortable and speedy treatment options.