Varicose veins are sometimes clues and symptoms to a much bigger problem. Aside from their unsettling appearance and the pain associated with them, a specialist from a vein clinic in Orlando, confirms that varicose veins can cause aching, swelling, heaviness, and fatigue.
So on that note, we discuss some of the underlying symptoms, especially fatigue, that are often associated with varicose veins.
Before discussing how fatigue can be caused by varicose veins, it is important to get the whole picture of what varicose veins are.
Generally, varicose veins are enlarged, damaged veins that bulge under your skin’s surface. They tend to be of blue-ish or purple-ish color that often appears in your legs, feet, and ankles.
According to the National Institute of Health, nearly 40% of women and 20% of men will have significant leg vein problems such as varicose veins at some point in their life. That is why it is so common to see many vein clinics that specialize in varicose veins popping up across the country.
Oftentimes, the underlying cause of varicose veins is venous reflux or chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). It is a condition that stems from the failure of your venous valves in the saphenous vein. This, in turn, causes the pooling of blood in your saphenous vein, resulting in bulging or varicose veins.
The risk factors of varicose veins include weight gain, being immobile, and family history. As for pregnant women, they are most likely to develop varicose veins because of hormonal changes.
Fatigue Caused by Varicose Veins
One study conducted an investigation on patients with sleep disorders due to restless leg syndrome. They found that half of the patients have venous reflux or CVI. Although further study needs to be done to prove it conclusive, it is still a noteworthy finding, especially for patients who have varicose veins due to CVI.
There have been several cases wherein patients who have varicose veins experience sleep disorders due to restless leg syndrome.
That said, this may be one of the reasons why you are experiencing fatigue and low energy. Because of restless leg syndrome, you may be having a hard time sleeping at night, which is the reason why you have low energy and are always feeling tired.
Another indication of why you may be experiencing fatigue due to varicose veins is your nature of work.
If you have varicose veins and you are required to stand all day at work, then it might be exacerbating your symptoms such as nocturnal leg cramps.
A study conducted in Korea, on those who experience prolonged standing at work, found that the prevalence of varicose veins and nocturnal leg cramps was higher for women.
So if you are a woman and your nature of work is like this, then it is recommended that you interrupt or reduce your prolonged standing. This way, you can sleep better at night and prevent the worsening of your varicose veins.
Before recommending a few lifestyle changes to prevent varicose veins, it bears repeating that you cannot always avoid varicose veins.
Some are hereditary and some are due to the sudden changes in your body. You can, however, prevent the latter and maintain your weight by switching to a healthier lifestyle.
Here are a few things that you can do to prevent the development of varicose veins and minimize symptoms such as fatigue:
Have Adequate Sleep
The importance of sleep for people with varicose veins has never been more important. Keep in mind that adequate sleep is defined as 6-8 hours of sleep per night. So in order to prevent fatigue from having varicose veins, you need to work on your sleeping schedule and find ways to get adequately rested.
Since your varicose veins might keep you up at night and prevent you from getting enough sleep, some experts recommend that elevating your feet can provide relief. Others also suggest that sleeping on your left side instead of reclining can help reduce the symptoms of varicose. However, keep in mind that there is no conclusive evidence to prove that all of these are effective. Still, it would not hurt to try it out for yourself.
Also, you should at least try to build your own sleep regimen or routine. This way, you can try which routines are effective for you and which are not.
In the end and if none of these work, then you should see your doctor so that they recommend a few ways that would help you sleep better at night.
Improve your Physical Activity
It is common knowledge that exercise does in fact promote better sleep at night. That said, you need to get enough exercise to keep your energy up and prevent fatigue.
However, since you have varicose veins, it is highly advisable that you stick with light and low-impact exercise to prevent further development of your varicose veins. Some specialists and experts suggest that an intense workout can worsen the appearance of your varicose veins.
Minimize Sodium Intake
Besides damaging your kidney and increasing your blood pressure, salt causes your body to retain more water, which in turn makes you more prone to develop varicose veins.
Although there have not been many studies that state the direct impact of sodium-rich foods on varicose veins, it is still a great precaution that you can do and it does no harm to your body. You can do this along with your diet or healthy eating habits. The NYU Langone Health recommends minimizing sodium intake as well.
Avoid Tight Clothing
It is no secret that tight clothing makes everyone uncomfortable because it restricts blood circulation and adds pressure to our bodies. Wearing tight clothes also makes us prone to varicose veins. As mentioned earlier, varicose veins are also the result of pooled blood in our saphenous veins.
So by wearing tight clothes, you are only increasing your risk of developing varicose veins.
It is worth mentioning that compression stockings are entirely different from tight clothes. Compressions stockings are specifically designed to support your muscles and aid your circulation. Oftentimes, doctors recommend these to patients who have just undergone a minimally invasive procedure, which would then be discussed in the latter part of this article.
Given that most varicose veins stem from venous reflux, it can worsen when left untreated.
It is worth noting that varicose veins are not the only symptoms of venous reflux. It can progress and turn into any of the following:
- Telangiectasies or reticular veins
- Pigmentation and eczema
- Atrophy Blanche
DVT is a medical condition that happens when blood clots form in your deep vein. It can happen to anyone and it can cause serious illness, disability, and even death.
Thankfully, all of these are preventable and treatable.
So even though varicose veins are normal among adults and are often considered a cosmetic problem, you should still not be complacent and always be on the lookout for these symptoms and risk factors. This way, you can discover it early and find ways to immediately treat it.
With that said, here are the available treatments for varicose veins:
The following treatments are recommended for patients who do not have any other underlying symptoms and just want to remove the appearance of their varicose veins. Most of these treatments are done in an outpatient setting and patients don’t have to be admitted to the hospital afterward. General anesthesia is also not necessary because local anesthesia is already enough for these minimally invasive procedures.
- Sclerotherapy: If you only have small varicose veins or spider veins, then this treatment might be your best option. Sclerotherapy works by injecting a solution into your damaged vein. These solutions are FDA-approved to ensure efficacy and the safety of the patient.
- Ablation: Generally, ablation is when your doctor uses heat to treat your damaged veins. You can either opt for radiofrequency energy or laser energy for this treatment. But most of the time, the process is generally the same. The doctor will puncture your damaged vein, insert a catheter to your vein, and then send heat, closing off and ultimately destroying your varicose vein.
- Phlebectomy: This treatment can be done alongside ablation. This generally involves making small cuts near your damaged vein and then ultimately removing it.
In contrast to noninvasive treatments, these surgical treatments are done in a hospital setting and you might need to be injected with general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia.
This surgery requires 2 to 3 small cuts in your legs that would then be stitched up afterward. Very basically, your surgeon would thread a thin, flexible plastic wire into your vein and then guide the same wire through the vein towards the other small cuts that your surgeon made before. The process can be a bit complicated and might take over an hour just to finish.
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Lifestyle changes for varicose veins. Patient Care at NYU Langone Health. https://nyulangone.org/conditions/varicose-veins/treatments/lifestyle-changes-for-varicose-veins. Accessed February 24, 2022.
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