Most veins are responsible for pushing deoxygenated blood back to the heart, where it receives fresh oxygen. Small, one-way valves inside the veins help push blood upward, against gravity. Each time the heart beats, the valves open, allowing blood to flow upward, and then close until the heart beats again to prevent blood from flowing backward. The backward flow of blood is called reflux and is often caused by weakened or damaged valves inside the veins. When valves fail, blood gets stuck and pools inside the vein, causing varicose veins.
Varicose veins are swollen, ropy, bulging veins that are visible from the surface of the skin and often blue or purplish in color. You may notice increased symptoms of varicose veins in summer. Things like warmer weather and increased outdoor activity can cause increased blood flow throughout your body, which increases your risk for damaged vein valves and therefore varicose veins.
How to ease varicose veins in summer
If your varicose vein symptoms worsen this summer, taking these five precautions will minimize pain and swelling associated with varicose veins and allow you to enjoy the warmer weather:
Dehydration causes muscle cramp and leg swelling, so be sure to drink plenty of water to keep the veins functioning properly. You can also eat plenty of water-rich foods to help with hydration like watermelon, cucumber, apples, celery and peaches.
2. Avoid midday sun
Physical activity is a great way to minimize the symptoms of varicose veins, but summer workouts should be planned for early morning, before it gets too hot, or after temperatures fall in the afternoon or early evening. Exercising in the midday heat will irritate varicose veins. If you do exercise outdoors, try swimming or walking in water, which will not only help keep you cool but will promote good circulation as well.
3. Cool down
After your workout, douse a towel in cold water and lay it across your legs to help alleviate any swelling or increased pressure inside your veins. A cool bath or shower will also help shrink blood vessels and reduce swelling. Whenever possible, stay in an air-conditioned space.
4. Elevate your legs
Encourage the upward flow of blood by raising your legs over your heart. Prop up your legs on a pillow at least three times a day for 15-20 minutes, as it will help ease swelling and heaviness that’s often associated with varicose veins.
5. Try compression stockings
Compression stockings apply pressure to the lower legs, which helps maintain proper blood flow and reduce discomfort and swelling. If they make you too hot, try sprinkling them with cold water.
Treatments for varicose veins
If you’ve noticed your varicose vein symptoms worsen in the heat, call Virginia Vein Care for a professional consultation. We not only offer advice on ways to reduce the swelling and pain of varicose veins but also a selection of minimally invasive, state-of-the-art treatments for varicose veins.
We want to help you get rid of unsightly varicose veins so you can enjoy your summer free from pain, discomfort or embarrassment. Visit a location near you and talk to one of our skilled vein care specialists about which treatment is right for you. We offer endovenous radiofrequency ablation, endovenous laser ablation, and ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy treatments for varicose veins.