Varicose veins sometimes appear among seniors. Varicose veins may bother you or they may not. You may think they are unsightly, but they are very rarely a cause for serious health concerns.
Like the rest of a senior’s body, varicose veins also age. The walls of the veins weaken and valves may start to leak. Larger veins that look blue and lumpy are defined as varicose. Most frequently they appear on the legs and the back side of hands. Smaller appearing versions are called spider veins. They can show up anywhere.
In recent years, many less invasive treatment methods have become available. Before you decide on any treatment that is too expensive or intensive, remember that varicose veins often return. Your physician can help you understand what is appropriate for your need.
If you live long enough, you’ll probably develop some varicose veins, but you may be able to make them less noticeable and more comfortable.
Symptoms vary from person to person and your options could range from surgery to simple interventions you can do at home. In most cases, you’ll be safe even if you decide to do nothing.
1. Ask your doctor. Let your doctor know about your symptoms. While serious complications are rare, you may experience general discomfort, fatigue, and itching.
2. Elevate your legs. Reduce swelling by using a footrest at home and work. Lie on your back and press your legs against a wall, so your feet are above your heart.
3. Change your diet. It might help to eat foods rich in antioxidants that slow down damage at the cellular level. Smart choices include vegetables, fruits, and tea.
4. Consider closure procedures. A variety of newer treatments make it easier to close veins rather than surgically removing them. Your doctor may recommend sclerotherapy which involves injecting a chemical solution or ablation that uses laser or radio waves.
5. Seek urgent care. Varicose veins are more fragile. Call your doctor or go to an emergency room if you experience heavy bleeding or clots or if the surrounding skin becomes infected.
More than 50% of seniors will have some varicose or spider veins. Still, there are actions you can take to help postpone them or even keep them from becoming more visible, even if you don’t prevent them entirely.
1. Lose weight. Excess pounds put more pressure on your legs. Slim down with a balanced diet. Choose foods high in fiber that will help you to feel full while eating less.
2. Move around. Standing or sitting in the same position for too long makes your circulation slow. Take breaks to stretch your limbs at least once each hour. Walking or any form of regular exercise will help too.
3. Use compression. Try unique socks and stockings that are designed to squeeze your legs gently. You can buy them in regular stores, or your insurance may cover them. Ask your doctor how long you need to wear them.
4. Wear flats. You may love the way high heels look on you. However, spending too many hours in them can aggravate varicose veins and other health issues. Save them for parties and date nights.
5. Drink water. Staying well-hydrated helps to keep your blood flowing. Carry a water bottle around with you. Use celery sticks and lemon wedges for flavor if you find plain water boring.
6. Be realistic. Keep in mind that lifestyle choices play a relatively minor role. Many factors are beyond your control, like aging, being a woman, and hormonal changes related to pregnancy and menopause.
Varicose veins are not related to heart disease, so you may decide to live with them unless your doctor recommends otherwise. Even if you need treatment, nonsurgical options provide adequate relief for most patients.
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