How the Summer Heat Affects Your Veins

How the Summer Heat Affects Your Veins

We all love summer. But if you suffer from symptoms of varicose veins, the heat can be a hazard to your health. Don’t let summer keep you indoors. Use our tips to beat the heat.

It’s the time of year to go to the beach, hike, or simply enjoy relaxing on your deck.  Throughout the season, your first concern may be the sun’s effect on your skin.

But did you know how seriously the summer heat affects your veins? From swelling to discomfort, the heat can wind up being a real inconvenience. 

What the Summer Brings

Summertime naturally leads to more time spent outdoors. The combination of outdoor activity and rising temperature means more pronounced vein conditions.

In the heat, veins naturally dilate for better blood flow. However, when veins swell it can cause issues.

Dilated veins mean your body must fight gravity harder to circulate blood back up to the heart. This added stress can lead to weary veins.

Often, this results in damaged veins and the accumulation of blood in the lower legs. This is how varicose veins can develop and where added discomfort and pain begin. It is also the precursor for a more serious issue called Chronic Venous Insufficiency.

Who is at Risk

There are over 24 million people in the United States that suffer from varicose veins. But the people most at risk are females over fifty years of age.

Women who have had multiple pregnancies are also at a higher risk because of additional stressed placed on veins.
Hormonal changes also affect the onset of venous disease. Women in menopause should be particularly careful during the warmer months.

Although it may seem like varicose veins is a disease that targets women, it’s a guy thing too. In fact, nearly 45% of people who suffer from varicose veins are men.

Certain occupations are also more at risk for varicose veins than others. Jobs that include standing or sitting for long periods of time are prone to vein issues.

People who suffer from varicose veins are often affected physically and mentally. Constant pain, even if slight, can greatly impact your attitude and mental state.

Prevention and Preparation

The appearance of varicose veins and unwanted pain can take its toll on anyone. But trying to prevent vein conditions and slow existing ones is a step in the right direction.

Prevention of vein conditions in the summer is similar to prevention during the rest of the year. But it’s important to remember that conditions can easily be exacerbated in hot and humid weather.

By following these guidelines, you should make it through the summer months without added discomfort:

Good General Health

Maintaining a healthy weight, activity, and eating properly are all important for vein health.

Extra weight can put a lot of stress on your body and particularly your legs. Staying in good physical condition means not only a healthy diet but also regular moderate exercising.  The combination of movement and eating right may also help reduce excess weight.

Eating foods that improve circulation is another great way to protect your veins.

And believe it or not, standing up and walking around for only a few minutes really does help!

Stay Hydrated

Drink.  Drink.  Drink. Getting plenty of fluids to stay hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to remain healthy in the summer heat.

Do you know the recommended amount to drink?  Divide your weight in pounds by 2. The answer is the number of ounces you should be drinking daily.

For example, a 150-pound woman should drink 75 ounces of water per day. Though water is the best for hydration, consider supplementing with herbal teas, electrolyte drinks, or fruit-infused water for variety. Just make sure it doesn’t include added sugar or caffeine.

Hydration is key to blood flow. If you aren’t drinking enough water, you may want to start bringing some with you wherever you go.

Remember, by the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Wear Loose Pants

Wearing loose pants allows the blood to flow properly with no added resistance.

Try wearing loose-fitting pants if you are going to be out for an extended time. Lightweight, natural fabrics will still allow you to be cool, and can cover your skin from the sun’s direct rays.

Leg Room When Traveling

When traveling in a car, plane, or even sitting at work, giving yourself the appropriate legroom helps with circulation.

Extended plane or automobile trips can result in lengthy periods of sitting in one position. It’s important during these prolonged periods of inactivity to use specific exercises while-on the go.

Get up from your seat on the plane and walk up and down the aisle. Pull into rest areas so that you can get out of the car and move around. Your veins will thank you.

Wear Compression Socks or Stockings

Compression socks and stockings use pressure to help push blood through your lower legs. They are an amazing way to help counter the effects of gravity. It’s really important to wear them if you sit or stand for prolonged periods of time.

Wearing compression stockings or leggings can help your legs feel better and assist your veins in working at an optimal level.

Compression garments are readily available at drug stores, sporting goods stores, and online. They are more comfortable than in the past and are designed to breathe better.

Wear them while working out, being active, or most importantly while traveling.

Put Your Feet Up

Gravity is the main cause of varicose veins, but it can also be a factor that prevents them. By elevating your legs, you are causing the blood to flow to other parts of your body.

Even if there is no place to put your feet up on that plane or in the car, elevate your legs whenever possible. At the beach, try putting your feet up on your bag, a towel, or even a beach ball.

If you are at the park, don’t be afraid to use a bench to elevate your legs.  Even a slight elevation will help get your blood pumping back towards your heart and out of your legs.

Cool Down

Beat the heat and cool off. Try to sit in the shade. Wear a hat. Take a dip in the pool. Sip on a cool drink. Go inside occasionally to cool yourself down. And always, always, always wear sunscreen!

Exercising and other activities are best done early in the morning or later in the evening so that the midday sun isn’t bearing down on you.

New-Jersey-Vein-and-Vascular-Center

Help is Available

Summer is a great time of year to enjoy the outdoors. Staying active, traveling, going on vacation, and soaking up the sun are all ways to enjoy the season.

However, over-exposure to hot temperatures for extended periods of time can cause pain and discomfort for those who suffer from varicose veins.

In addition, your lifestyle, including an unhealthy diet, inactivity, or not staying sufficiently hydrated, can cause pain and swelling. By employing compression, heat management, activity breaks, and hydration you can reduce your symptoms.

But if you would like to eliminate discomfort quickly, make an appointment with a vein specialist about medical treatment options.

Suffering from venous issues doesn’t mean you have to forgo the outdoors this summer. Keeping a healthy weight and limiting strenuous activity in the heat are important.

Knowledge and preparation will allow you to enjoy the outdoors while minimizing discomfort.

The New Jersey Vein and Vascular Center is here to help, please contact us today to learn more.

This blog has been updated and republished in August 2021.

When Pregnancy Veins Won’t Go Away

When Pregnancy Veins Won’t Go Away

One of the many ways pregnancy can affect a woman’s body is through the appearance of varicose veins and spider veins. Although not all women develop them during pregnancy, they are more common after multiple pregnancies and in women with a family history of them. While pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, it is also very challenging. Supporting a baby stresses the body and brings about some obvious and uncomfortable changes that leave many women wondering: When pregnancy veins won’t go away, what can be done?

If you develop varicose veins during pregnancy, you shouldn’t worry immediately.  It’s very common.  It would still be wise to let your doctor know about them.

If you didn’t have spider or varicose veins before pregnancy, your chances are pretty good that they’ll improve and possibly heal on their own.  Spider veins are usually temporary and improve a few months after you give birth.  If you did not have varicose veins before giving birth, they will likely shrink or disappear in a few months as well.  Although, they’re less likely to go away after multiple pregnancies.

What Can You Do in the Meantime?

  • Get rid of those extra pounds you gained during pregnancy.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Don’t cross your legs.
  • Don’t stand for extended periods.
  • Wear compression socks.
  • Be patient.

If three or four months have passed since giving birth, and you still have veins that bother you it’s probably time to seek treatment. Fortunately, there are safe and effective treatments available today that are far less invasive than older approaches.

Compression Therapy

It’s often recommended that women wear compression stockings to improve the circulation in their legs, either to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy or to deal with the symptoms. Compression therapy can be very helpful, but it should be overseen by a vein specialist. The level of compression needs to be correctly evaluated.

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that only takes 15 to 60 minutes and requires no downtime. A solution is injected into the problem vein, causing it to collapse and be reabsorbed by the body. Larger veins may require multiple treatments.

Endovenous Laser Ablation

Endovenous Laser Ablation or EVLT remarkably effective treatment is also known as laser vein ablation. A catheter with a laser tip is inserted into the vein, guided by ultrasound. The laser then seals off the vein, diverting the blood flow. It only requires local anesthesia, is done in about an hour, and doesn’t require multiple sessions. 98% of patients experience immediate relief, and there is no interruption to your daily activities.

If you have concerns or questions about pregnancy veins and treatment options, please contact us. We offer care and treatment during and after pregnancy.

9 Hidden Health Risks of Untreated Varicose Veins

9 Hidden Health Risks of Untreated Varicose Veins

When one thinks of vein treatment, often what immediately comes to mind is the aesthetic aspect. But there are hidden health risks of untreated varicose veins. Varicose, spider, reticular, and pregnancy veins are all considered unsightly. While many may not care to invest in treating vein conditions and are willing to accept the look of their blue, red or purplish veins, this certainly isn’t the only reason to consider having vein treatments. The truth is, some vein conditions carry their share of risks as well as discomfort, and if left untreated can lead to larger issues.
Varicose veins are a common symptom of age (especially in women), a sedentary lifestyle, and excess body weight, among other genetic factors. Most people consider them more of an unsightly cosmetic inconvenience, rather than an actual health risk.

Learn the Health Risks of Untreated Varicose Veins:

If left untreated for a prolonged period, varicose veins pose some potential major health risks that could leave you hospitalized and in pain.

1. Changes in Skin

The skin near an untreated varicose vein will turn “shiny”, feel waxy and thin, and take on a darker, almost bruised pigmentation. This will  deepen over time without treatment. The skin around a varicose vein is easily disturbed and delicate enough to be damaged by a slight bump. Heavy bruising is not uncommon.

While not a serious health risk, this symptom causes many to feel self-conscious about their skin. Dermatitis from the varicose vein could lead to infection if not treated properly.

2. Itching

One of the most common symptoms of untreated varicose veins is an “itching” sensation. It is often treated as dry skin if varicose veins are not obvious. This symptom is one of the mildest on this list and can often be treated with over-the-counter skin salves and ointments. Seeking the opinion of a specialist is important to make sure that there aren’t serious issues happening beneath the skin.

3. Swelling

Varicose veins can cause far more problems than meets the eye. Don’t think that they are simply visible little veins. They are visible for a reason. When blood isn’t pumping out of the legs properly due to damaged valves within the vein walls, blood begins to collect. This enlarges parts of the veins where blood is stagnant.

While some people may never feel any discomfort due to appearance of varicose veins, there are many who experience leg swelling, cramps, restlessness, and even burning sensations.

4. Pain and Cramping

Because varicose veins affect the flow of blood through the veins, oxygen that is carried through the blood does not reach the proper areas, leading to muscle cramps near the site of the vein. These cramps are painful, sometimes debilitating, and can severely affect mobility.

5. Bleeding

Some experience bleeding when veins close to the skin burst. While this isn’t usually a very serious health risk it’s important to have veins checked and treated so it does not continue to occur. Bleeding can sometimes prove heavy. In cases of bleeding, it is important to seek medical assistance. 

6. Ulcers Due to Untreated Varicose Veins

Venous diseases can also cause leg ulcers. An ulcer is a break in the skin, which is dangerous due to exposure to bacteria and infection. According to Mayo Clinic, these ulcers are caused by long-term fluid buildup in the tissues surrounding the varicose veins due to “increased pressure of the blood within the affected veins”. These ulcers are slow-healing, painful, and can even be caused simply by scratching the skin over a varicose vein.

Leg ulcers can easily get infected and lead to further health complications. Treating a varicose vein is paramount to treating an ulcer, as the ulcer is not likely to heal while the vein is still affected. Healing leg ulcers can take a very long time and often require a wound care specialist. This can be avoided with proper vein treatment before the ulcers take hold.

7. Superficial Thrombophlebitis

This condition occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein that is close to the skin, causing it to swell and push against the dermis (layer of skin under the epidermis), making it visible. This symptom causes discomfort and can lead to more complications, since the vein is more vulnerable to damage or irritation. 

8. Deep Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clots)

When varicose veins are present, the blood in the veins is unable to cycle back through and pools in the body. This creates what is called “stagnant blood flow”. A blood clot located in deep veins is known as deep vein thrombosis. While superficial veins are not at risk for deep vein thrombosis, often those who experience discomfort from varicose veins may not realize that perhaps their discomfort is from deep veins.

Blood clots for superficial veins are often not much of a health problem; however, according to WebMD clots found in deep veins have the potential to travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing potentially life-threatening issues. This is one of the most serious health risks associated with untreated varicose veins.

9. Lipodermatosclerosis

The appearance of veins may indeed be a warning of a bigger issue, which is why it’s important to have them checked by a doctor. For example, varicose veins are a key symptom in an illness called Lipodermatosclerosis. The National Institute of Health says those suffering from this disease suffer “pain, hardening of skin, change in skin color, swelling, and tapering of legs above the ankles.” It’s important to start recommended treatment to control symptoms, as in more severe cases surgery may be necessary.

Don’t Ignore Unsightly Veins

While many unsightly veins prove simply superficial, there are potential risks to ignoring them. It is important to have visible veins checked, and if necessary, treatment by a medical professional to avoid future issues that may cause discomfort, stress, and serious health problems.

Call today to schedule an appointment at The New Jersey Vein and Vascular Center, a leading center for treatment of varicose vein disease and venous insufficiency, or visit our website for more information.

12 Simple Ways to Improve Circulation

12 Simple Ways to Improve Circulation

Your circulatory system is your body’s method of distributing both nutrients and oxygen. It also functions to clean your body, whisking away carbon dioxide and waste products from all areas. It is very important to keep your blood circulating well so that your body gets all the support it needs to survive. Which is why we have compiled a list of the simplest ways to improve circulation and stay healthy.

The symptoms of poor circulation can vary. Some people experience slight tingling in their extremities, while others might develop varicose veins in their legs. Whatever the symptoms, inadequate blood flow is a major risk factor for issues like heart attacks, strokes, and even amputation of limbs.

Proper circulation is vital for one’s health, and can also prevent varicose veins. If you’re worried about your circulation or experience pain or coldness in certain areas, you should contact your doctor immediately, as this may be indicative of poor blood flow. With these tips in mind, it is easier than ever to prevent and improve poor circulation to keep yourself healthy.

Take a Walk

Poor circulation can be a problem for those who stand for extended periods of time at work. In this position, the blood simply is not recirculating adequately in the body, and it can result in extreme pain in the legs and feet. According to this study, the simple act of walking every day can dramatically increase the circulation throughout your body.

If you find yourself standing for too long, or remaining sedentary for any reason, find a friend, go for a walk, and get that blood moving. A simple exercise like walking is enough to stretch your muscles and restore blood flow.

Stop Smoking

It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes leads to a host of health problems. Not least among them is the fact that cigarettes are extremely damaging to cardiovascular health. Smoking causes swelling of the wrists and ankles. It damages your cells on a molecular level and can increase the risk of blood clots.

Cigarettes kill 140,000 people in America because of their impact on cardiovascular health. Quitting cigarettes is one of the best things you can do to ensure your vital organs receive an increased amount of oxygenated blood.

Try Swedish Massage

A therapeutic Swedish massage, available at most spas, is a luxurious getaway for your body and mind. Though relaxation is tied to healthier blood flow, massage therapy has been shown to increase local blood circulation and lymphatic flow. Trained massage therapists know how to increase your circulation through specialty strokes throughout the session.

Do Some Yoga to Improve Circulation

Regular, gentle yoga is another pleasant alternative therapy for improving circulation. Studies have shown that certain yoga poses have proven beneficial for cardiovascular health, and offer a myriad of other health benefits as well.

The best part about yoga is that simple exercises and stretches can be safely done in the comfort of your own home, without expensive equipment or gym fees.

Put Those Feet Up

Aside from the fact that you deserve a break at the end of a long, exhausting day, there are legitimate health reasons to put your feet up daily. Gravity can cause fluids to build up in your lower limbs if you’re on your feet all day. Laying down with your feet elevated about six inches above your torso is a great way to reduce swelling.

Elevating your feet lets gravity help your blood flow establish a more natural rhythm, especially if you’ve spent a great portion of your day on your feet.

Decrease Stress

When you’re stressed out, your body produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which is linked to cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure. Studies have shown that stress significantly decreases the amount of oxygenated blood flow to the heart.

If you’re experiencing elevated levels of stress, it’s likely impacting your circulation. Try to focus on mediating that stress in your life. Whether you de-stress through hobby time, meditation, phone calls with friends, listening to music, or journaling, make sure you prioritize your peace of mind.

Losing Weight Will Improve Circulation

Like quitting smoking, losing weight takes a little more of a lifestyle change to implement. Weight gain restricts blood flow due to endothelial dysfunction, blocking circulation to the limbs. It’s been shown that having excess fat, especially belly fat, can make it more difficult for your abdominal arteries to expand. This means less blood flow throughout the rest of your body.

Losing weight can help take pressure off those arteries, and lead to better circulation.

Wear Compression Stockings or Socks

Compression stockings are long, tight socks that hug your lower legs and improve blood circulation. They counteract the tendency of blood to pool in the lower legs.  Compression socks squeeze your vein walls in such a way that the blood returns to the heart from the legs more easily. They help mimic the muscle movement created by walking even when you’re sitting still. This discourages stiffness and swelling, and is very useful for people who work long hours sitting at a desk.

Compression socks can be purchased in a variety of styles, fabrics, colors, and levels of compression. Some are designed for dress, casual, and sports, in open and closed toe. There are four main levels of compression from 8-15 mmHg to 30-40 mmHg. The lower the number, the milder the compression. People in many professions wear compression socks daily to improve circulation, and prevent leg fatigue and swelling.

Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Pomegranates and blueberries are great sources of antioxidants, which are thought to increase blood flow by neutralizing free radicals, which can damage your cells. Some other super foods to include in your diet to increase circulation are grapes, nuts, dark green veggies, sweet potatoes, beans and fish.

Wear the Right Clothes

Tight clothing prevents blood flow by placing pressure on the skin. Loose clothing allows blood to flow freely without restriction. Shoes that are too tight or at an odd angle (like high heels) force your feet into uncomfortable positions, causing swelling in the feet and ankles which restricts blood flow.

Choose clothes and shoes that are comfortable if you know you will be on your feet for long periods of time. Save those more form fitting clothes and high heels for date night or special occasions.

Don’t Cross Your Legs

Crossing your legs while sitting can restrict blood flow. Sitting with both feet flat on the ground helps prevent this. If you typically cross your legs, this can be a difficult habit to break, but it is highly recommended that you give it a try.

Crossing your legs not only hinders circulation but it can also lead to poor posture, back pain and leg stiffness.

Drink Water

Your body needs water to move nutrients and waste throughout the blood. It helps keep both your blood and skin cells hydrated so they can repair themselves efficiently. Dehydration can lead to serious health problems.

Keep water on hand and drink it regularly throughout the day. Drinking water will improve circulation, brain function and heart problems.

Poor circulation is a serious health threat that afflicts many Americans, but there are plenty of interventions to consider. If you have been giving extra thought to improving your circulation, the professionals at New Jersey Vein and Vascular Center can help answer questions about vascular health, blood flow, and varicose veins.

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