With the cold weather fast upon us, various health conditions and illnesses seem to heighten when the temperature drops each year. You may notice that your varicose or spider veins tend to act up more during the winter months.
Although most patients living with varicose veins correlate the negative changes in their feeling to a dip in degrees, varicose veins don’t worsen with colder weather. The changes you may be feeling are most likely due to a lessened amount of physical activity due to our tendency, as a society, to stay indoors, cozy up, and keep warm when the weather isn’t ideal.
If you’re living with varicose or spider veins, there are certain things you can do during the winter months to ensure your symptoms are kept at bay.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that appear on the legs and thighs. They occur when healthy veins become overfilled with blood due to poor circulation within the veins. They often appear on the skin’s surface, sometimes appearing bluish-purple in color.
Varicose veins are most common in women aged 50 and older but can affect anyone at any age.
They can appear due to a variety of factors, including:
- Standing for long periods of time
- Family history of varicose veins
- Poor circulation
How does cold weather affect varicose veins?
During the winter months, when colder weather is more prevalent, varicose veins tend to cause minimal or no symptoms due to the shrinking of veins and blood vessels caused by the drop in atmospheric pressure and temperature.
While the shrinking of blood vessels could cause problems in areas where they are already minuscule, such as your fingers or toes, the shrinkage is a benefit for already-enlarged veins on your legs. The shrinking causes the veins to function more efficiently, allowing blood to flow upward more easily than it usually would when enlarged.
Conversely, varicose veins worsen in warmer weather and climates. In fact, heat causes an increase in vein dilation, often expanding the size and location area of your current varicose veins. In the heat, they are also more apt to bulge and worsen symptoms such as pain, heaviness, itching and lower leg swelling.
How can I ease symptoms and prevent further varicose veins from forming?
Although the only way to get rid of varicose or spider veins once you have them is through specialized medical treatment, there are various ways to help alleviate symptoms and stop them from getting larger and spreading during the winter months when we tend to be less active due to the colder weather.
Here are some of the most effective ways to reduce symptoms this season:
Eat a well-balanced diet
A well-balanced diet year-round will allow you to maintain your current weight or even lose weight while taking in the nutrients you need.
If you live with varicose veins, it is recommended that you stick to a lower sodium diet to reduce water retention in your body that could lead to swelling in your lower legs. Make sure to consume fiber to help with healthy circulation and a variety of fruits and vegetables to strengthen the walls of your veins.
One of the best remedies for varicose veins is regular physical activity.
We understand that it may not be appealing to head outdoors in temperatures fit for the North Pole, but there are various ways to keep your activity level up during the colder months. Daily cardiovascular activity will strengthen the heart and veins, improving circulation and reducing inflammation.
Some great ideas to stay active include:
- Walking or jogging (outdoors or on a treadmill or track)
- Strength training classes
Wear compression stockings
Compression stockings are a great solution to help with varicose vein symptoms. They help prevent new varicose veins from forming and improve venous circulation throughout your lower extremities. The added pressure from compression stockings encourages swollen veins to narrow, in turn, allowing blood to flow back to the heart more efficiently.
Varicose veins treatment close to home
Virginia Vein Care offers a wide range of minimally invasive, nonsurgical alternatives to effectively treat varicose veins any time of year. To learn more about varicose vein treatment options or to schedule a consultation, please visit a Virginia Vein Care location near you.