While we still have much to learn about varicose veins, we know they occur when blood doesn’t circulate properly through the veins. The circulation problem makes the blood pool and the vein bulge. Besides being unattractive, varicose veins can cause pain, discomfort and swelling in the ankles and feet.
Varicose veins can happen anywhere in the body, but are most common in the legs. Women get them far more often than men. They tend to run in families, though not exclusively. So if your mother had varicose veins, you are not automatically destined to get them, too.
You can’t do anything about heredity, but you can try to modify several other factors that are associated with varicose veins. Some of these lifestyle changes may help prevent varicose veins:
- Regular exercise improves blood circulation and builds muscle tone in your legs.
- Don’t cross your legs when you sit.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Quit smoking.
- If your job requires you to stand in one place, try to shift your weight periodically. Stretch and move your legs around as much as possible.