How to Fix Varicose Veins Naturally
No doubt it was, agreed her doctor, Howard C. Baron, an attending vascular surgeon at the Cabrini Medical Centre in New York City. The culprit, however, wasn't the vacation itself but the tedious, uncomfortable eight-hour jet ride home. Perhaps if the woman had suspected a predisposition to varicose veins, she'd have occasionally flexed her calf muscles and left her cramped seat every hour to stroll up and down the aisle.
Obviously, the patient didn't know that 'movers and shakers', as Dr. Baron dubs fitness enthusiasts, are the best candidates for healthy legs. For that reason, he singles out exercise and diet in his book Varicose Veins: A Commonsense Approach to Their Management (1979) as the key preventives against symptoms and complications of those bulging bluish cords down the leg.
It's no secret that those gnarled and swollen leg veins afflicting one in four women and one in ten men aren't very pretty. They're malformed, defective blood vessels that are no longer elastic. Stretched out of shape, they appear enlarged, twisted and discolored. That all stems from problems with the delicate valves within the leg veins that provide a pathway for used blood to be carried back to the heart from everywhere in the body. To ease the arduous task of forcing blood up the leg against the gravitational pull, the tiny, one-way valves close between heartbeats to prevent a back flow of the pumped blood.
Normally, that action occurs millions of times throughout life without a hitch, but in the leg veins, the process may be disrupted. Pressure on the leg veins may interfere with the circulatory system and prevent the valves from shutting properly. When this happens, or if vein valves are inadequate, defective or malfunctioning, blood seeps back and pools in the legs, further dilating the veins. After a few years, the vessels begin to lose their flexibility. They sag and push towards the surface, shifting the entire burden to the larger, deeper veins.
Many people dismiss the early warning signals of varicose veins — the slight tingle of impaired blood flow followed by the eruption of small bluish veins near the skin's surface — unless they pose a cosmetic problem. Some doctors, however, like Dr. Baron, believe that early detection and treatment can prevent more serious symptoms and complications from occurring.
Unfortunately, millions do suffer, typically experiencing a dull aching heaviness and fatigue in the legs. Ankles may swell, particularly in warm weather, painful calf cramps may develop at night and legs may itch or burn. More serious complications such as leg ulcers, phlebitis (inflamed veins, a condition that plagued former President Nixon), blood clots and hemorrhage may occur. Disfigurement, emphasizes Dr. Baron, is the most blatant sign of the disorder. He describes the appearance of the troublesome vein as 'bunched, twisted, lumped and contorted into an angry blue rope with grape-like bulges. '
The causes of varicose veinsAlthough many people die annually from a related complication — blood clots in the lung — doctors are still divided on the precise cause of varicose veins. Many experts, like James A. DeWeese, blame one's ancestors for the affliction. 'It's a degenerative process that runs in families, and when the cause is due to heredity it can't be prevented,' maintains Dr. DeWeese, a renowned vascular surgeon at the University of Rochester (NY) Medical School.
Robert A Nabatoff, a clinical professor of vascular surgery, also indicates genetics as the major contributing factor to varicose veins. 'The vast majority of patients have inherited their condition, and the veins usually first appear in the late teens or early 20s,' says Dr. Nabatoff, who teaches at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
None the less, the notion of varicosities as an environmentally induced disorder is gaining credence and increased respectability among a number of doctors. Among them is Denis P. Burkitt, who believes highly developed and industrialized cultures pay a severe price for progress with heart disease, ulcers, obesity and varicose veins. This prominent British surgeon contends that inflamed vessels are rare among primitive people living on fibre-rich diets, but are common in Western nations where meals are low in roughage. A fibre-depleted diet, he explains, necessitates abdominal straining to evacuate small, hard stools, putting enormous pressure on leg veins. Prolonged toilet sitting, he says, further aggravates the dilemma by cutting off circulation along the back of the legs.
Other forms of inactivity such as standing or sitting too long in one place may also exacerbate varicosities. Because the malady results from impaired circulation, authorities speculate that chair sitting may especially wreak havoc on one's legs. In fact, it all started with the Egyptians, and they, too, had varicose veins. 'The chair,' states Dr. Baron, 'is a terrible invention of civilization. While it makes sitting comfortable, it increases the pressure on the leg veins, and it also leads to a damaging habit — crossing your legs. '
Although the problem is far more prevalent in women, a popular misconception, notes Dr. Baron, is that pregnancy causes varicose veins. Instead, it's generally thought today that female hormones, especially those released during pregnancy, play a role in producing varicose veins in susceptible women. Frequently, inflamed veins may be the first sign of pregnancy, even before a missed menstrual period, but they often recede after childbirth. Because the unsightly blue cards pop out before the veins come under increased pressure, this suggests that the weight of the fetus may be less a factor than hormones.
Diminishing varicose veinsIf you already have varicose veins, there's no need to despair. Dr. Baron believes that minor adjustments in daily routines may help diminish the number and even the size of the snake-like embarrassments. Some tips for preventing and 'pampering' varicose veins, as well as precluding future complications, include the following :
- Avoid whenever possible long periods of sitting or standing. If you must do so, make a conscious effort to flex your leg muscles. Wiggle your toes frequently, and slowly raise and lower yourself on the balls of your feet. Don't cross your legs. Break up lengthy car trips by stopping and walking several minutes every hour or two. On the long plane or train rides, pace up and down the aisle at least once an hour.
- Get sufficient exercise through walking, jogging, running, cycling or swimming. Walking, note Drs Eric P. and Karl A. Lofgren, both of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, lowers the venous pressure to about a third of the standing pressure under normal conditions (Geriatrics). Dr. Robert May, a specialist in surgery and circulatory problems at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, advises brisk walks for 15 minutes four times a day. He also advocates going barefoot at home to help exercise the foot muscles and improve venous blood flow (Medical Tribune, 27 February 1980).
- Adopt a high-fibre diet. A lack of roughage hardens stools and puts pressure on the pelvic veins. Dr. May recommends that patients eat salad daily, along with vegetables and jacket potatoes, and take two to three tablespoons of wheat germ. Whole grains, bran, and fresh fruits are other good sources of fiber.
Robert J. Loewenberg, a vascular surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia, suggests increasing the daily intake of dietary fiber fivefold.
- Shun tight garments such as calf-length boots, tights too snug at the groin, girdles, corsets and binding belts. Any clothing that tends to constrict the venous blood flow just beneath the skin can be hazardous to your health.
- Elevate your feet, whenever possible. Lean back, kick off your shoes and put your feet up on your desk. Placing the legs 12 to 24 inches above heart level reduces pressure in the veins to nearly zero.
- Don't read on the toilet. The shape of the hard wood or plastic seat puts undue pressure on the abdominal veins, which, in turn, puts pressure on leg veins, notes Dr. Baron.
- Avoid bathing in a tub full of hot water, warns Dr. May, who recommends showers in the morning and at night. He also suggests a final spray of cold water on the legs.
- Wear elastic support stockings throughout pregnancy and support hose at other times if you must stand a lot.
Untreated, varicosities can become disfiguring and disabling. 'Although no absolute cure has been discovered,' wrote Dr. Karl Lofgren, 'much can be done to control this chronic venous disorder, to provide relief of symptoms and to prevent complications. '
For uncomplicated varicose veins, either bandages or well-fitted elastic stockings can be used to relieve symptoms by acting like muscles to facilitate blood flow. Because the fit is so critical, however, Dr. Baron cautions about the stockings' main drawback: they stretch out gradually and support may disappear. They must also be put on before you get out of bed in the morning when any swelling will be at its least.
Should those fail to provide sufficient relief, a treatment popular in Britain involves injecting a chemical into the veins to close them off. Called sclerotherapy, it is now seldom used by American specialists because of its high failure rate, permanent brown pigment stains left in the skin and serious side-effects.
Experts agree that complete surgical removal of the malfunctioning veins has proved to be the best approach for correcting significant varicosities. The most common method involves tying off and removing the troublesome veins — also known as 'stripping' them. Once the defective vessels are removed, other healthy ones assume their function without harming normal circulation.
Even though the procedure is deemed safe and often yields permanent results, the treatment and cure of varicose veins in a sense are always failures — of prevention.
How to Solve Varicose Veins Naturally Reviewed by Healthy Kite on 6/21/2016 Rating: