Varicose veins are common as you age, especially if you’re a woman. But your age isn’t the only factor that puts you at risk of developing varicose veins. Certain jobs can increase the risk of unsightly veins in your legs. Professions that require you to stand for most of the day, such as nursing or factory work, are one cause of varicose veins. And jobs where you sit all day, such as office workers, can also lead to varicose veins. However, you can help prevent varicose veins with certain changes to your lifestyle. Charlotte Radiology is here to help you better understand causes, risk factors, and treatment options for varicose veins so you can make informed decisions about your vein health.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Veins are the blood vessels that send blood back to the heart so it can get more oxygen. Veins have valves in them to prevent blood from flowing backward. But if these valves get damaged, blood can pool in the vein. Pooling causes increased pressure in the veins. Eventually, the walls of the veins will weaken. When the veins weaken, the veins grow larger and become varicose.
Varicose veins are most likely to appear in your legs and feet under your skin. These veins may appear blue, red, or purple. Varicose veins often look lumpy, swollen or twisted. You may have no symptoms besides the visible veins, or your legs may feel tired, achy or itchy.
On the other hand, spider veins are a smaller form of varicose veins and are typically painless. They appear in tiny blood vessels close to the skin and can also surface on your face.
What Can Cause Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are extremely common, affecting at least 20% of people during their lifetime. However, women have a greater likelihood of developing varicose veins. The main causes of varicose veins include:
- Being overweight
- Certain medical conditions that damage your veins
- Family history of varicose veins
- Female hormonal birth control or menopause therapy
- Working a job where you sit or stand for long periods of time
While risk factors such as age, sex or family history cannot be changed, you can make other lifestyle changes to lower your risk of varicose veins. Some of these changes could include adjusting your workplace habits.
Common Jobs That Can Cause Varicose Veins
If you have a job where you spend most of the day sitting or standing for long periods of time, you have a higher risk of developing varicose veins. The possibility of developing varicose veins increases if you have other risk factors such as a family history of varicose veins, being overweight, or are older than 40.
Jobs that often lead to varicose veins include:
- Construction workers, especially those who operate machinery
- Factory workers
- Healthcare workers
- Office workers
- Restaurant employees
- Retail employees
How to Prevent Varicose Veins
If you’re at high risk of developing varicose veins and have a job that involves a lot of sitting or standing, it’s important to take steps to minimize your risk. Complications from untreated varicose veins can include:
- Deep vein thrombosis, a condition that causes blood clots, and other venous diseases
- Internal bleeding
- Superficial blood clots
- Ulcers or sores
Preventing varicose veins may not always be possible, but the following activities can minimize your risk:
- Exercise regularly. Improving your cardiovascular health with daily workouts lowers the risk of varicose veins.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you weigh less, your veins have an easier time getting blood back to your heart.
- Take frequent breaks. If you sit at your job, get up and walk around every 30 minutes. If you stand all day, try to sit briefly, or walk around so that your blood gets moving.
- Wear compression stockings. These specialty tights create pressure on your veins to improve blood flow.
Once you have varicose veins, they will not go away on their own. But exercise, weight loss, and other lifestyle changes can minimize symptoms.
You Can Treat Varicose Veins
If your varicose veins are affecting your health — or if they’re preventing you from exposing your legs because you are self-conscious of their appearance — it’s time to talk to a provider at Charlotte Radiology Vein Centers. Our team offers minimally invasive varicose vein treatments to help maintain good vein health, including:
- Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT), an outpatient procedure that uses lasers to close off damaged veins
- Sclerotherapy, an outpatient procedure that uses a mild injected chemical solution to seal off damaged vein walls and valves
Treatment is the best way to prevent complications from varicose veins, and Charlotte Radiology is here to help.