6 Ways to Practice Self-Care

6 Ways to Practice Self-Care

Self-care simply refers to taking care of ourselves so we can be the best version of ourselves. Self-care should be part of everyone’s life. We all deserve it.

The American Psychological Association even encourages mental health professionals to practice self-care to not only to help themselves but so they can better help their patients.


Benefits of Self-care

Self-care involves every aspect of your life. It can range from the choices you make about foods to allowing yourself to express your emotions. All self-care choices involve improving your own physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Taking care of your body is critical to any self-care plan. However, mental and emotional self-care also play a tremendous role in your physical health.

Self-care will help to reduce your anxiety, stress, depression, and frustration and even help you stay healthy. It will increase your happiness, energy, and performance—and enable you to better help others. It’s particularly important in times of stress when people tend to neglect their own needs.

Self-care is not the same for everyone and it should never feel like a burden. Start by making small changes to things you want to improve. The positive effects will inspire you to make additional changes.

Here are 6 ways to show your body self-care.


Move Your Body

The human body was meant to move, and people usually feel better once they get moving. And if there aren’t physical limitations, the more your body moves, the more it will want to move the next day.

There is a connection between body movement and:

  • Improved mental health
  • Better mood
  • Reduced depression

Try to focus on movement—not exercise. Exercise can sound like a chore—and may lead to increased stress since you now have one more “have to do” on your list.


Closeup of a man enjoying the fresh air during a walk in the park


Simple movements like straightening up your living room, taking a walk, or watering plants aren’t part of an exercise routine, but they get your body moving and boost circulation.

If you’re not used to moving, start by trying to move for just 10 minutes at a time. This can mean walking your dog or even dancing alone in your living room.

Once you get used to moving, you may feel excited to start a new exercise routine.

Here’s how body movement promotes healthy veins.


Self-care Includes Eating Well

A healthy diet nourishes the body, provides energy, and helps prevent disease.

Unfortunately, many people equate eating well with depriving themselves of the foods they love. You may be more successful in improving your eating habits if you think about adding foods to your diet that will nourish your body and support good health.


A plate with grilled salmon, lemon, and green beans


A diet full of anti-inflammatory foods such as freshly grilled salmon and leafy green salads is not only delicious but will help you stay healthy and feel great.

Fresh blueberries and raspberries are naturally sweet and help curb cravings for unhealthy and inflammatory processed sugary foods.

Try eating superfoods that fight inflammation and you will find that your body soon craves foods these delicious foods that are actually good for you.

And stay hydrated to boost energy levels and support good mental performance.


Get Enough Rest and Sleep

Making time for adequate rest and sleep are acts of self-care. Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Sleep plays a key role in keeping your body and mind healthy. During sleep, your body eliminates toxins and builds your immune system.

Staying up late one night may not be harmful, but extended periods of not enough sleep can have a serious effect on your health.

Too little sleep has been associated with many health problems, including:

  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Poor immunity

Sleep is important to your mental health as well. Too little sleep can make it difficult to:

  • Focus
  • Learn
  • React quickly
  • Properly process emotional reactions
  • Feel happy

Here’s more information about the effects of sleep on your health.


Listen to Your Body

Your body has many ways to signal that it’s tired, not feeling well, or that something is simply off.

During a busy day, it’s easy to brush aside these signals and ignore what your body’s telling you—but listening to your body is an important part of self-care.


A man in a suit sleeping in a commuter train


If you fall asleep on the train during your daily commute, your body’s probably saying you’re not getting enough sleep.

Or if you’re legs painfully ache at the end of a day of lots of standing, you may have varicose veins.

Do you get headaches while reading? Perhaps you need glasses.

Here’s more about how to listen to your body to improve your health.


Support Your Own Emotional and Mental Health

Emotional self-care is all about doing things you like to do and that help you relax. It has a great impact on your physical health.


A smiling couple petting their dog and relaxing on a couch


Emotional self-care involves:

  • Processing your feelings in a healthy way
  • Showing yourself compassion
  • Seeking support from and spend quality time with friends and family
  • Seeking a mental health professional when things get overwhelming
  • Doing something every day that you enjoy
  • Asking for help if you need it


Social self-care is all about having healthy relationships in your life.

It includes:

  • Setting boundaries that are comfortable for you
  • Keeping people in your life who support you
  • Putting your needs first—it’s okay to say “no”


Mental self-care involves challenging yourself intellectually and keeping your brain active.

You can:

  • Read a book
  • Work on a hobby or puzzle
  • Keep a journal


Keep Up with Check-ups

It can be tempting to skip medical checkups when you’re feeling okay or even when you’re not. But this is never a good idea.

During a check-up, your doctor might detect an illness that needs immediate treatment or advise you on important preventative steps to take against getting sick.

During check-ups you can also:

  • Ask questions you have about your health
  • Get caught up on vaccinations
  • Learn about health screenings that are due

At NJVVC, we specialize in preventing and treating vein and vascular disease. Contact us today for a free vascular screening.

How to Understand Your Body to Improve Your Health

How to Understand Your Body to Improve Your Health

We all understand the importance of being good listeners. Actively listening to others creates trust, collaboration, and prevents misunderstandings. But how many of us listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us? Learn how to understand your body to improve your health.

Here are some things your body may be saying. When you listen closely, you’ll find you both speak the same language!


Ways to Listen to Your Body

Keep a Journal


A woman sitting on a couch writes in a journal


Write in a journal daily and talk about how you are feeling physically. Are you having trouble sleeping through the night or experiencing an upset stomach?

And don’t forget your emotional health. Are you feeling overly stressed or depressed?

Then watch for patterns. Patterns can connect physical or emotional feelings to your diet, other events in your day, or even other symptoms.


Pay Attention to Your Stomach

Do you feel lethargic or bloated after eating? Keep track of the foods you eat and how you feel afterwards.


Close-up of a woman’s clasped hands resting on her stomach


This can uncover food-related issues, such as lactose intolerance or food allergies. Try removing the disagreeable foods from your diet and see if the symptoms disappear.

If necessary, review your findings with your doctor to discover a possible underlying medical issue.


Listen to Your Digestive System

Your colon may tell you it’s feeling bloated or painful. Or you may need to strain to go to the bathroom.

There are things you can do to make bowel movements regular, including:

  • Eat 30-40 grams of fiber daily
  • Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Drink plenty of water—about eight glasses a day

If symptoms persist, contact your doctor.

If your family has a history of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy.


Pay Attention to Allergic Reactions

Do you commonly experience:

  • Sneezing and/or runny nose
  • Hives and/or rashes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Stomach cramps and/or vomiting

These symptoms can all be signs of food or environmental allergies.

A doctor can test you for allergic reactions. If they find an allergy, eliminate the irritant if possible and/or get allergy treatment so you will feel better.


Think About Your Mental Health

Are you depressed or anxious and you don’t know why? Are feelings of anxiety, or other emotions, interfering with your everyday life?

Do you have persistent feelings of:

  • Sadness
  • Worthlessness
  • Despair and hopelessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of interest in almost everything

These can be signs of a mental health disorder.


A woman comforts a distressed man sitting next to her on the couch


The National Institute of Health estimates that “one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness.” The great news is that many treatments are available so people can manage their illness and lead fulfilling, satisfying, and productive lives.

Contact a mental health professional and start to feel better!


Notice If You’re Feeling Tired

Everyone feels tired at times, but persistent feelings of tiredness can mean health issues that you should discuss with your doctor.

To increase your energy, try:


Pay Attention to Your Sleep Habits

Your body can’t function optimally without enough quality sleep.

Lack of sleep can even hurt your heart’s health and weaken your immune system. Learn more about the effects of sleep on your health.

If you wake up in the morning still tired, try:

  • Keeping your bedroom quiet, cool, and free of lights from electronic devices
  • Avoiding caffeine after 2 pm-4 pm
  • Avoiding alcohol within 3 hours of going to sleep
  • Avoiding heavy meals before bedtime


Listen to Your Hair and Skin

Your hair and skin say lots about your health.

Has your hair recently changed in texture or volume? Are you suddenly losing a lot of hair? This can show a hormonal or nutritional imbalance in your body.

Does the skin on your face have patches of different tones? Are they reddened or dark? This can indicate a medical condition, as will yellowing or orange-looking skin.

Share these findings with your doctor.


Watch for Signs of Varicose Vein Disease


A woman is checking the swelling in her foot and ankle and for signs of varicose vein disease


Do you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Heaviness, achiness, or pain in legs, especially at the end of the day
  • Itchiness near veins
  • Leg cramps
  • Swollen feet and ankles
  • A feeling of pressure in the legs
  • Sores on the legs and ankles
  • Swollen or bulging veins

All these symptoms can be signs of varicose veins or chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) disease.

Read more about the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease.

Find out how exercise helps promote healthy veins.


Pay Attention to Sudden Stroke Symptoms

We can easily remember critical signs that you or another person are experiencing a stroke by using the B.E. F.A.S.T. acronym.

B.E. F.A.S.T stands for:

  • B—Sudden problems with balance or coordination
  • EEye problems-sudden blurred or double vision, or loss of vision without pain
  • FFace Drooping
  • AArm Weakness
  • SSpeech Difficulty
  • TTime to call 911 IMMEDIATELY


Indicators of Good Health

You’re on the right track if your body’s telling you these things:

  • You feel energetic and rarely have muscle strains or pains
  • Your bowel movements are consistent and show no noticeable changes in color or consistency
  • You sleep with minor interruption, fall back asleep in under 20 minutes, and feel well-rested in the morning
  • Your skin is hydrated, clear, and even in tone
  • Your hair has a sheen, little breakage, and little shedding
  • Your gums are pink and healthy and don’t bleed with tooth brushing or flossing
  • You easily concentrate, remember things, and can let go of negative experiences without lingering worrisome thoughts


Get Regular Checkups

Now that you know how to listen to your body, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about any health concerns.

Also, make it a lifetime habit to visit your doctor for a yearly checkup. This way, many medical problems can be detected early, when they are most treatable.

If you are looking for a varicose vein specialist, contact us at NJVVC for a free vascular screening and complete vein care.

Building Your Immune System to Resist Colds & Flu

Building Your Immune System to Resist Colds & Flu

It’s important to build your immune system to resist colds and flu. And it’s good to know, many of the steps we provide here offer additional benefits—including helping to prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even varicose veins!

The start of winter makes us think of exciting snow-covered ski slopes and heartwarming holiday gatherings. Unfortunately, winter is also the height of cold and flu season. But building your immune system and keeping it strong is important all year long.


How Our Immune Systems Help Us

Our immune systema help our bodies fight against harmful infections and diseases. It’s made up of a complex balance between our white blood cells, lymphatic system, thymus, and more!

Health care providers will recommend certain vaccines for protection against specific germs or invaders. But getting vaccinated is just part of protecting our health. There are many things one can do, daily, to keep our immune systems strong and our bodies healthy.


Immune Systems Weaken with Age


An older man with a bad cold with a blanket over his shoulders covering a  cough


Immune systems change with age. And aging is certainly out of our control. Many older adults find their immune systems have weakened and they’re more susceptible to certain diseases.

But still there are things we can do at any age to make our immune systems stronger.

Here are ways to improve your immune system to better fight colds and flu. And you’ll find that the health benefits extend way beyond flu season.


Eat Healthy Foods

We enjoy foods because of their pleasing tastes and textures. But our bodies depend on food to get the necessary nutrients.

Not only does food give us energy (measured in calories) for activity and growth— it also keeps our immune system robust.

A healthy diet includes:

  • Vegetables
  • Fresh fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • Lean protein

A diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables will provide lots of fiber to support your gut’s microbiome production for a strong immune system.

You should avoid:

  • Cholesterol
  • Too much salt
  • Sugar
  • Saturated fats

Read how eating certain superfoods helps fight body inflammation and pain and helps prevent varicose veins and other health problems.


Vitamins and Supplements

Key micronutrients for strong immunity include:

  • Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D and E
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Magnesium


Many doctors recommend taking zinc supplements if you’re developing a respiratory infection to ease symptoms and shorten the length of the infection.

A healthcare provider will let you know the best amounts of zinc and vitamins to take. You don’t want to take too much as some can be harmful if taken in too large a dose.

A balanced and complete diet may even eliminate the need for any additional supplements.


Stay Hydrated


A man filling a tea kettle with water at his kitchen sink


A well-hydrated body will better fight off the flu and colds. Hydration can come from water, teas, and even chicken soup!

Adequate hydration helps the communication and biochemical pathways of the immune system. Your blood will more easily transport nutrients, fluids, and signals to organs to help fight infection.


Reduce Stress

Sometimes the thought of reducing stress seems a bit like herding cats—a highly difficult task.  But even if you can’t control the events in your life, you can help your body better deal with the stress you’re experiencing. This is important because stress can harm you.

Stress weakens parts of your immune system and leaves you at greater risk of infection. For example, shingles, a painful and sometimes dangerous rash, often emerges when a person is under constant stress.


A warmly dressed couple taking a nice walk on a park trail


Some easy ways to reduce stress include:

  • Going for a 20-minute walk
  • Listening to favorite music
  • Practicing yoga or meditation
  • Reading a good book
  • Calling a friend
  • Doing something you enjoy—such as cooking a delicious meal for yourself
  • Watching a funny movie
  • Exercising
  • Relaxing outside in the fresh air
  • Spending time with your pet



Start exercising to give your immune system a boost. Exercise helps the immune cells circulate throughout your body during the periods of exercising. Afterwards, the immune cells will remain for up to three hours, working to protect your body from harm.

Harvard Medical School published the benefits of brisk walking to boost immune function during the cold and flu season. It reported, “A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.”

Exercise will also support vein health so veins can efficiently help your immune system circulate throughout your body.


Watch Your Weight

Keep at a healthy weight for a strong immune system and optimal health.

Health professionals define an obese person as someone with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30. Studies have shown that obesity can decrease the immune system’s effectiveness and is associated with a lower effectiveness of vaccines—including the flu vaccine.

Other studies have found a connection between being underweight and having an impaired immune system.

When it comes to your immune system and your health in general, it’s best to maintain a good weight. Your health care professional can give you the best weight range to strive for.

These factors play a role in weight management:

  • Eating a well-balanced and healthy diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising
  • Minimizing stress


Get Plenty of Sleep


A man sleeping in bed with his arm around his dog


It’s an undisputed fact that experiencing a poor quality of sleep hurts your immune system.

Not getting enough sleep will:

  • Dangerously reduce production of cytokines (small proteins that enhance activity of immune system cells and blood cells)
  • Reduce production of antibodies
  • Increase your risk of viral infections

Read more about the effect of sleep on your veins and arteries.


 Give Your Lifestyle a Checkup

Two of the most important things you can do to preserve your immune system are:

  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol

Smoking will make you more susceptible to getting influenza and pneumonia, as well as making these illnesses more severe and long-lasting.

Excessive use of alcohol will reduce the antibodies your body has to fight off infections. It also disrupts gut barrier function that produces antiviral proteins and eliminates infections.

Are you wondering about your vein health? Contact us at NJVVC to request a free vascular screening.

Superfoods That Can Help Fight Inflammation and Pain

Superfoods That Can Help Fight Inflammation and Pain

Today the word superfood enjoys widespread use and is the highest compliment a food can receive! It means that the food has unusually high levels of nutrients and offers a variety of significant health benefits.

Happily, there are superfoods that can even help fight inflammation and pain.

You probably have heard the term “superfood,” but do you know its origin?

During World War I, the US imported large amounts of bananas. The United Fruit Company called bananas “superfoods” since they were cheap, nutritious, easy to digest, and conveniently came in their own packaging! Bananas quickly became a staple in many Americans diets.


Vascular Issues Associated with Inflammation and Pain

Chronic inflammation commonly causes varicose veins. The inflammation damages the valves in the veins. These damaged valves lead to stagnant flow in the affected veins, eventually leading to varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Once this occurs, the veins no longer function well in getting blood back to the heart.

Varicose veins can also create long-term swelling that causes ulcers or sores that won’t heal.

Having a sedentary lifestyle, or needing long periods of bed rest, are just two f actors that slow down blood flow and can also contribute to the development of varicose veins—and to more inflammation and pain.

Poor circulation can cause you to feel pain, numbness or tingling in different parts of your body, including:

  • Hands and fingers
  • Legs
  • Feet and toes

Read more about signs of varicose vein disease.

Here are simple ways to improve your blood circulation.



Inflammation is a serious condition. Along with contributing to the development of varicose veins, it can cause plaque to develop and loosen in the arteries, and even cause blood clots that result in strokes or heart attacks.


A man massages his hand as if in pain


Chronic inflammation contributes to many other serious medical conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancer
  • Depression

Inflammation can also cause chronic pain in the muscles and tissues, or can even cause painful skin rashes, such as psoriasis, or joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis.

An anti-inflammatory diet can not only reduce inflammation in your body, helping you to avoid dangerous medical conditions, but can even reduce pain. This diet will also help you control your weight, which will most likely further reduce pain in your body.

Fortunately, we can improve both vascular issues and inflammation with:

  • A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods
  • Elimination of inflammatory foods
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss/control
  • Blood sugar control

So, incorporate some of these anti-inflammatory superfoods into your diet and learn which is the most damaging inflammatory food to avoid.


Eat These Superfoods to Reduce Chronic Inflammation and Pain


A close-up of blueberries


Blueberries, Strawberries, Oranges and Other Fruits

Blueberries are chock full of phytonutrients that fight inflammation. If you can’t find fresh blueberries, buy frozen berries for the same nutrients.

Chili peppers have lots of vitamin C—an antioxidant that fights infections. It’s also associated with elimination of cancer-causing radicals in the body. Hot peppers also help reduce pain due to the capsaicin they contain.

Other fruits that are strong inflammation fighters include:

  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Avocado


Sweet and Tart Cherries (Fruits worth mentioning on their own)

Sweet (Bing) cherries and tart (red) cherries both have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and a lot of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are closely associated with reduced muscle pain and reduced muscle weakness.


Salmon, Herring, Tuna, Mackerel, Sardines

Wild salmon has lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great inflammation fighters. Salmon helps improve blood flow and reduces inflammation in blood vessels and nerves. It’s also good for your heart and can even help reduce joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis or back pain.

Not a fan of salmon? Try other types of cold-water fish such as sardines, tuna, and mackerel.

But not all fish offer these health benefits. For example, catfish and tilapia have high levels of omega-6 fatty acids which can actually increase inflammation.


Some Spices

Consuming these spices leads to reduced inflammation:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Rosemary
  • Turmeric


Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

EVOO helps lower bad LDL cholesterol. It’s rich in antioxidants (polyphenols) and has other anti-inflammatory properties. Use it instead of butter or other cooking oils.

Harvard Health Publishing of Harvard Medical School reports that the health benefits of EVOO include a reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and dementia for people who consume more olive oil than those who have little or none.


Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds have powerful antioxidants and magnesium. They can help reduce the number of migraines. They also support a healthy heart and lower blood sugar levels.

Chia and flaxseeds also top the list of anti-inflammatory seeds.


Coffee and Tea

Coffee has polyphenols and other compounds that fight inflammation.  It also narrows dilated blood vessels to help reduce headache pain. Just be aware that consuming lots of coffee, and then suddenly avoiding coffee, can cause a withdrawal headache.


Pouring tea from a white teapot into a cup with saucer 


Healthful anti-inflammatory teas include green tea, black tea, and rosehips.



Edamame, young soybeans, are a substantial source of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin K. It may reduce heart disease risk, as well as cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.



Yogurt is associated with many health benefits, including decreased insulin resistance and decreased inflammation. Researchers possibly connected the anti-inflammatory powers of yogurt to its probiotics, but more studies are needed. Be  sure to avoid sugar-flavored yogurts!


More Foods That Reduce Inflammation

Include these additional anti-inflammatory foods into your diet for better health and to feel great:


A close-up of baby spinach leaves


  • Vegetables—including leafy greens, broccoli, cucumbers, spinach
  • Nuts and beans—including walnuts, almonds, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, soybeans
  • Whole grains—including whole grain bread, rye bread, brown rice
  • Turkey

Eating a healthful diet will help you look great too! Read about vitamins for healthy skin.


Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

The number one inflammatory food is sugar. So, skip the sodas, desserts, candies, and fruit juices and look forward to feeling better. There is much debate about whether sugar is actually addictive, but there is no debate regarding the harm it causes the body.

Avoid these other inflammatory foods to feel better:

  • Processed meats—bacon and ham
  • Fried foods
  • Red meat—hamburgers and steaks
  • Refined carbohydrates—white bread, white rice, pasta
  • High-fructose corn syrup—watch for on all food labels
  • Margarine, corn oil, shortening

Learn more about the connection between diet and varicose veins.

Contact NJVVC for treatment of varicose vein disease and venous insufficiency.

Poor Circulation in the Legs and Feet

Poor Circulation in the Legs and Feet

Poor circulation can affect many areas of your body, including your legs, feet, and toes.

There are many reasons for poor blood circulation in the legs and feet, and usually several things you can do to improve your circulation.

It’s important to see a medical specialist for diagnosis, and then follow the prescribed treatment for your specific condition. There are different diagnostic tests doctors can perform to get an accurate diagnosis. But sometimes a doctor still can’t pinpoint the cause—even after tests are done.


Symptoms of Poor Circulation in the Legs and Feet

Some symptoms of poor circulation in the legs and feet are:

  • Numbness
  • Throbbing, tingling, or pain in limbs
  • Cold feet
  • Muscle cramps
  • Discolored feet that sometimes turn blue, white, purple, or red


A heel has dry, cracked skin


  • Dry or cracked skin on feet or legs
  • Hair loss on legs or feet
  • Slow wound healing on feet

When a person has poor circulation, cells don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients delivered, and waste remains in cells. Cells function poorly; blood vessels narrow, harden, or even close.

People with poor circulation are commonly:

  • Over 40-years-old
  • Overweight
  • Diabetic
  • Smokers
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle and don’t exercise


Some Causes of Poor Circulation



Diabetes is a condition that results in too much glucose (sugar) in your blood. Doctors can easily diagnose diabetes by performing blood tests.

Plaque accumulates in the blood vessels when high blood sugar continues for extended periods of time. Poor blood circulation affects the legs and feet and other parts of the body.

Without treatment, this could lead to serious health problems, including foot ulcers—which can result in amputation if they can’t heal properly.

People with diabetes need to have their feet checked regularly to make sure they’re not developing signs of poor circulation or neuropathy.




A woman has a hand up as she refuses a cigarette


Cigarette smoke causes damage to your arteries. Plaque accumulates over time and causes circulation problems.

It’s simple. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start!


Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, unattractive veins that appear twisted or gnarled.

These unsightly veins develop when damaged blood vessels cause extra pressure to be put on the veins. Then the newly formed varicose veins further contribute to poor circulation by allowing blood to flow backwards, instead of up toward the heart. Read more here about chronic vein insufficiency.

Leg symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • Aching or heaviness
  • Itchiness
  • A burning sensation


A woman show’s her leg that has a vein condition


Some common risk factors for varicose veins include:

  • Being female
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Standing for lengthy periods of time every day
  • Smoking
  • Genetic predisposition

A vein specialist uses out-patient procedures to treat varicose veins. Changing your lifestyle, such as losing weight and wearing compression socks will help as well. However, damaged veins need medical correction.

Here’s how exercising will help keep your veins healthy.


Atherosclerosis and Peripheral Artery Disease

Atherosclerosis is a condition of dangerous plaque build-up that often affects arteries of the legs and arms, as well as the heart and brain.


An infographic showing peripheral artery disease (PAD)


Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) occurs when plaque damages the blood vessels that bring blood to the legs and feet.

PAD is the most common cause of poor circulation in the legs.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol can contribute to the development of PAD. When a person has PAD, they are also most likely at risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

One test used to diagnosis PAD is the ankle-brachial index. During this test, your doctor compares the blood pressure in your arm to the blood pressure in your ankle.

Here are things you can do to stop PAD from progressing:

  • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control
  • Exercise
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet


High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol

When you have high blood pressure, blood is pushing against your blood vessels with unusually powerful force. This can weaken your blood vessels and ultimately interfere with good blood circulation.

When a person has high cholesterol, cholesterol inevitably deposits on artery walls.


Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud’s disease affects blood circulation when a person is cold or stressed. It usually affects blood flowing to toes and fingers, although it can affect other areas of the body.

Symptoms include:

  • Toes or fingers turning white
  • Extremely cold extremities
  • Burning, tingling, pain, or numbness

These symptoms can last for as little as one minute or continue for several hours.

Medication and lifestyle changes are used to treat Raynaud’s disease.

Risk factors for Raynaud’s disease include:

  • Having a job that causes vibrations to the body
  • Being over sixty and have another vascular disease
  • Taking cyclosporine or some beta-blockers
  • Having fibromyalgia or a history of hepatitis B or C


What You Can Do to Improve Blood Circulation in Your Legs

  • Follow medical treatments for underlying conditions
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise
  • Avoid sitting for lengthy periods of time—take frequent breaks
  • Do leg stretches
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Massage feet
  • Keep feet warm when outside in cold weather
  • Avoid stress – practice relaxation techniques
  • Wear compression socks
  • Eat a healthy diet


When to Contact a Doctor Immediately or call 911


An infographic displaying danger of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). 


Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can be a life-threatening event. It’s caused when a blood clot in the leg interferes with circulation. There is always a chance that the clot will travel and cut off blood flow to the lungs.

DVT often occurs if you do not move for a long time—such as you are recuperating from an operation in bed or sitting in a plane or car for a long time. Read about traveler’s thrombosis.

Signs of DVT include:

  • Sudden pain (that begins in the calf) or swelling in the leg
  • Skin feels warmer than usual to the touch
  • Discolored skin
  • There’s numbness or “pins and needles” in your leg

If the clot has broken away, you may feel chest pain, sweat, and have difficulty breathing. More about when to see a doctor.

If you are concerned about your leg circulation or have varicose veins, contact us at NJVVC for diagnosis and treatment.

Traveler’s Thrombosis – Red Blotches on Ankles or Calves

Traveler’s Thrombosis – Red Blotches on Ankles or Calves

Traveler’s thrombosis, also known as economy class syndrome or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is a medical condition that can occur when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg, after prolonged periods of sitting, such as during air travel or car rides.

Spring and summer often bring travel adventures. Many of us will go to our local airport, check in, go through the standard security measures, and board an airplane for an exciting new destination.

If you have ever travelled for prolonged periods of time, you may have experienced red blotches on your ankles of calves. You’re not alone. This is commonly referred to as Traveler’s thrombosis.


Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis or DVT, refers to a condition where blood clots form in the leg veins. This may occur in any situation where there is prolonged pooling of blood in the deep veins of the legs or pelvis.


How blood clots form in the legs


This common for bed-bound persons and those who sit for long periods of time in chairs, cars, trains, or airplanes.

If a clot, or portion of a blood clot becomes detached from the vein, this process is called venous thromboembolism or VTE.

In very few cases a clot, or portion of the blood clot can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, or PE.

This can present as a serious condition, as it is possible for a large embolism to travel in the bloodstream and block a major artery or blood vessel in your lung and can result in death.

Pulmonary embolisms are rare in airline travelers, occurring only in 0.4 million airline passengers. For those passengers experiencing PE, it is fatal about 2% of the time.

Personal risk factors can play a role in the incidence of VTE. Other conditions, like duration of flight and a person’s degree of immobility during the flight, can increase the risk.


woman traveling on airplane


Risk factors and symptoms of Traveler’s Thrombosis

The risk of developing traveler’s thrombosis increases when you have additional risk factors such as obesity, pregnancy, smoking, taking birth control pills, or having a history of blood clots.

Symptoms of traveler’s thrombosis can include pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected area. In some cases, the clot may break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially life-threatening condition called a pulmonary embolism.

To reduce the risk of traveler’s thrombosis, it is recommended to take frequent breaks and walk around during long flights, wear compression stockings or socks, and stay hydrated.


Compression socks on a woman’s legs


It’s also important to talk to a healthcare provider before traveling if there are additional risk factors present.

If you have red blotches on your ankles and legs after air travel, it is recommended that you seek medical attention to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment.

If you are experiencing any other symptoms, such as pain, swelling, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.


Leg and foot swelling during air travel

Leg and foot swelling during air travel is a common problem and is often caused by a combination of factors related to sitting for extended periods of time and the low cabin pressure in airplanes.


Airplane in the clouds


During air travel, the lower cabin pressure can cause fluid to shift from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues, leading to swelling. Additionally, sitting in a cramped position for a prolonged period can cause blood to pool in the legs, further exacerbating the swelling.

Other factors that can contribute to leg and foot swelling during air travel include dehydration, wearing tight-fitting clothing, and not moving around enough during the flight.

People who have pre-existing medical conditions such as heart failure, liver disease, or kidney disease may also be more prone to swelling during air travel.

To prevent or reduce leg and foot swelling during air travel, it is recommended to:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing and comfortable shoes
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Walk around and stretch your legs frequently during the flight
  • Wear compression stockings or socks, which can help improve blood flow

Consider taking a low-dose aspirin before the flight, especially if you have a higher risk of blood clots.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, talk to your doctor before flying and ask for specific advice on how to manage swelling during air travel.

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