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Time to Read

6 minutes

Key Topics
  • What are they?
  • Symptoms
  • Causes and prevention
  • Solutions
  • The effect of compression
swollen and enlarged veins that usually occur on the legs and feet

varicose veins

What are varicose veins?

According to the NHS site, varicose veins are “swollen and enlarged veins that usually occur on the legs and feet”. They tend to be a dark purplish blue in colour, and appear lumpy, twisted and raised on the skin. [Insert Shutterstock photo of veins on leg] 

They’re also diagnosable from the symptoms they can cause, although some people with varicose veins don’t experience any symptoms, which is a good indicator that you don’t currently need to seek treatment. 


Symptoms

If you do experience some symptoms, these can include: 

  • Cramping of the leg muscles, especially during the night 
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles and calves which worsens over the course of the day 
  • Skin that is thin, and possibly dry and itchy around the affected vein(s)
  • Discomfort in your legs that may feel like burning, throbbing, aching or heaviness 

Symptoms are normally exacerbated by warmer weather, and by long periods of standing. Because of gravity, being stood upright directs blood flow to the affected valves in the legs - raising your legs or walking around may provide some relief from symptoms. 


Causes & prevention

It’s important to disclaim that the development of varicose veins cannot be prevented, as they are a result of unavoidable factors such as age, family history and gender. Another of the biggest causes of varicose veins is pregnancy, which isn’t necessarily relevant to everyone. 

Factors that lead to varicose veins developing include: 

  • Obesity 
  • Hormonal influences during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause 
  • Using hormonal methods of birth control 
  • Postmenopausal HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) 
  • A history of blood clots
  • Conditions that cause increased pressure in the abdomen including tumours, constipation, and externally worn garments like girdles 

While you can’t prevent the onset of varicose veins, once you have them you can be proactive, and take measures that will prevent them from worsening. A healthy diet, proper hydration and regular exercise are key to your overall health and can improve a variety of medical conditions – and varicose veins are no different. Maintaining a blood pressure in a healthy range is key to preventing further damage to the valves in your blood vessels varicose veins. 


Solutions & management

Over time, vein valves tend to weaken, and so varicose veins become worse as you age. Managing symptoms will increase your day-to-day comfort and quality of life, and this can be done by introducing products like compression garments or by simply adjusting your lifestyle and habits to include fewer long periods of standing, more walking and scheduling in time to sit with your feet elevated to promote better blood flow in the lower body.  

When discussing varicose veins, it’s impossible to ignore the more superficial issues that arise from their presence, and the impact they can have on a person’s self-confidence. Many people with varicose or similar spider veins are troubled by the appearance, as their dark colour and raised texture can be very visible on exposed skin. If you feel inclined to cover or lessen the appearance of the veins there are many products you can purchase to accomplish this, for example: body makeup; opaque tights; or self-tanner. None of these are permanent solutions to the issue, so if you don’t wish to undertake medical treatment it is important to focus on coming to terms with and not developing a negative self-image resulting from the visible veins. 

While you can’t prevent the onset of varicose veins, once you have them you can take pre-emptive measures to prevent them becoming worse. A healthy diet, proper hydration and regular exercise are key to your overall health and can improve a variety of medical conditions – and varicose veins are no different. Maintaining a blood pressure in a healthy range is key to prevent varicose veins from worsening.  

During pregnancy, it is possible to ease the symptoms of existing varicose veins by sleeping on your left side, as it alleviates pressure from the distended uterus on the large vein that runs through your pelvic area from the middle-right side of the body. This will prevent the interruption of blood flow to the lower body while you sleep. 


What effect does compression have?

Compression tights are strongly recommended for those who suffer with circulatory issues such as spider veins, varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. They’re most effective when put on first thing in the morning before you have lowered your legs from the bed, as this is when you have the best circulation, having been horizontal all night. 

A 2004 study showed calf-length compression stockings can reduce swelling in the evening, and potentially even prevent it, and the researchers leading the study also recommend that people whose professions cause then to sit or stand for long time periods should also wear compression stockings, regardless of whether or not they are predisposed to circulatory issues. 

Compression stockings and socks might not necessarily prevent varicose veins from forming, but they are excellent for promoting healthy blood flow and lessening the severity of irritating symptoms – especially when used vigilantly and long-term. 

KYMIRA Medical provided three-quarter and full length compression stockings, but unlike other similar products they combine standard medical compression with our unique infrared technology. Using a smart textile, our fabric converts energy from your body (and the surroundings) into infrared which can penetrate back into the body up to four centimetres. In instances of poor circulation, infrared light exposure causes the activation of an enzyme called Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase, or eNOS for short. eNOS produces a chemical called Nitric Oxide in our blood vessels and it is this chemical which allows our products to treat, manage or regulate circulatory conditions including Raynaud’s disease and inflammation in conditions such as arthritis. 


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