Winter may ease your varicose vein symptoms, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take special care of your veins when temperatures drop.
If you have varicose veins, you’ve probably noticed how the uncomfortable symptoms of those protruding lines of blue or purple veins on your legs and feet escalate during the summer months. So you may look forward to wintertime, when cooler temperatures ease the pain and swelling of varicose veins.
Generally speaking, cold weather has a soothing effect on varicose veins, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your vein health during the long winter months. To keep your veins fit throughout the year, learn ways to prevent or reduce the symptoms of varicose veins when temperatures drop.
How Cold Weather Affects Varicose Veins
Varicose veins result from venous insufficiency, our leg veins’ inability to move blood back to the heart after it flows through the extremities. This mechanism depends on tiny valves that close and push blood upward to the chest. When those valves malfunction for a variety of reasons (age, obesity, pregnancy, and heredity), the blood collects within the veins, causing the delicate vein walls to expand outward from under the skin and emerge as varicose veins.
Regular exercise encourages proper circulation by stimulating the calf muscles to squeeze the veins and help them pump blood. During the winter months, however, we may be less active and avoid working out when the weather is cold and dark. This lack of exercise could worsen the symptoms of your varicose veins. Even during winter, set aside 30 minutes a day for a brisk walk or other form of cardio exercise, such as swimming. Elevating your feet whenever possible and taking frequent breaks from your desk to walk around promote circulation, as well.
In addition, during the holidays, we may indulge in unhealthy food and gain weight. Those extra pounds put increased pressure on already-overwhelmed varicose veins. Avoid salty, sugary, and processed food products this winter. Instead, consume fresh fruits, vegetables, and high fiber foods.
Changes in atmospheric pressure also affect how our veins work during the winter. When atmospheric pressure drops during the winter months, it slows down the circulatory system within our bodies. Yet this has more of an effect on the small blood vessels in the fingers and toes (which is why we feel the cold most acutely in our hands and feet) than on the legs veins. In that way, cold weather isn’t all bad for varicose veins. Unlike warm weather that tends to dilate veins, cold weather shrinks the veins, helping them return blood to the heart. When that occurs, you’ll notice less swelling and pain in your varicose veins.
Time to Treat Your Varicose Veins?
If you’re considering treating your varicose veins, winter may be the best time to do so. At the Desert Vein Institute, we offer a variety of minimally invasive surgical techniques to permanently eliminate your varicose veins. By getting treatment now, your varicose veins can diminish just in time for the warmer months. Typically, after the procedure, you’ll wear compression stockings made of highly woven elastic. These garments support the leg veins as they carry blood back to the heart. During winter, compression stockings will feel more comfortable than they would in the hot summer months. To learn, more contact our office for an appointment.