Varicose veins can be defined as a circulatory disorder that causes abnormally large and swollen veins under the skin. The veins are either blue or purple because they contain deoxygenated blood. The symptoms of varicose veins vary from mild to serious. When the veins in your feet become varicose, the feet may swell and feel heavy. You may feel pain in your feet after extended sitting or standing, and the veins may become itchy.
Causes of Varicose Veins in Feet
Other than the ankle, the foot is another area of the body that is commonly affected by varicose veins. Your feet contain veins, which are the channels through which deoxygenated blood goes back to the heart. When returning the blood to the heart, the leg veins work against the gravitational force. Because of this, the veins contain valves that are essential in preventing the blood backflow. Any damage to the valves impacts the normal functioning of your circulatory system, causing the blood to flow backwards and increase pressure in the veins. When this happens, the veins in your feet swell and enlarge.
The causes of varicose veins in the feet include:
Pregnant women are more vulnerable to varicose veins than any other group of women. During pregnancy, certain changes occur in your body to ensure the body is in an optimal condition to support the fetal development. An increase in the blood volume is one of the most common changes that occur during this period. When the blood volume rises, it exerts pressure on the blood vessels, causing the veins in your feet to bulge and become noticeable. You may either develop veins during the later stages of pregnancy, or the veins may appear earlier in pregnancy and worsen later in pregnancy.
Pregnancy also triggers certain hormonal changes in your body. The production of progesterone and estrogen hormones increases during this time. Although the hormonal changes are important to pregnancy, they may trigger relaxation in the lining of the veins in your feet. Relaxed veins are vulnerable to blood leaks, which cause varicose veins.
The chances of varicose veins are higher in your old age than young age. Ageing is a natural process that damages the valves in your feet veins by wearing them out. The worn-out valves cause the blood to flow backwards, piling pressure in your feet veins. This results in varicose veins.
Your body weight exerts pressure on your feet. Therefore, being overweight means that the pressure in your feet increases. This high pressure strains the valves in the veins of the feet, making them unable to cope with increased blood flow. When the valves strain, they become weak, allowing the blood to flow backwards. Additionally, being overweight may expose you to other health conditions, including hypertension, which cause the pressure in your veins to escalate. In such cases, your blood vessels may rupture and weaken your arterial walls. Weakened walls of the arteries will increase pressure in the circulatory system, resulting in varicose veins.
Although many people may not know that stress has the potential to cause varicose veins, long-term stress increases vulnerability to varicose veins. Stress flare-ups trigger your nervous system to send nerve impulses to various parts of your body to ensure survival. For instance, when you realise that you are in danger, the nerve impulses may trigger your legs to run faster that you can run during normal circumstances. Because of the increased movement of impulses in your body, the rate of your heartbeat increases, leading to increased pressure in your blood vessels. Since this sudden reflex action also causes your digestive system to shift its focus from retaining its faecal matter to survival, you may also experience diarrhoea when you get stressed.
Stress causes your body to lose water through diarrhoea and sweating, leading to dehydration. Dehydration may cause malnutrition and increased appetite for carbohydrates. Stress flare-ups also trigger increased production of inflammatory chemicals, including histamine and adrenaline, which raise the pressure in your veins.
Staying inactive for excessively long causes the blood in the veins of your feet to flow slower than normal. When this happens, the blood builds up in the veins, resulting in increased pressure. The increased pressure stresses the valves of the veins, leading to backflow. As a result, your feet veins enlarge and become varicose. You can easily avoid reduce your chances of varicose veins by staying active. Avoid standing or sitting in one place for an extended period of time without moving. If your job involves immobility, taking a walk for a few minutes can be highly helpful. Staying active enhances blood flow in the vessels, which helps in reducing the chances of varicose veins.
Lack of Proper Diet
Poor diet causes varicose veins by depriving your body of nutrients that are essential for its proper functioning. Poor diet also weakens your immune system, resulting in increased vulnerability to diseases, including varicose veins. You may also develop conditions such as obesity, psychological stress, and hypertension. These conditions are potential triggers of varicose veins in your feet.
Therefore, you need to eat proper diet to prevent varicose veins in your feet. For instance, a good diet for varicose veins should be rich in vitamins B, C, and E. While vitamin B prevents varicose veins by ensuring a healthy digestive system, vitamins C and E are essential for a healthy immune system and red blood cell formation respectively. Examples of foods that contain these nutrients include vegetables, oily fish, and fruits.
Abnormal Functioning of the Liver
Just like the heart, kidneys, brain, and lungs, the liver is one of the most important organs in your body. In fact, it facilitates over 500 body processes. Hence, any damage or malfunction in this organ impacts the normal functioning of other body parts, including the circulatory system. After digestion, the food goes through the liver for filtration, which involves selecting good nutrients for absorption. The rest of the food substance is passed out of the body as wastes. The hepatic portal vein is a very important blood vessel in your body that transports the nutrient-rich blood from your digestive system to the liver. Any damage to this vein hinders the normal flow of the blood, causing the veins in your feet to become varicose.
Varicose veins may run in the blood; hence, your veins in the feet may be varicose because you inherited the condition from your parents or ancestors.
Varicose veins in the feet have multiple causes. Although the causes may be beyond your control, some of them can be prevented through natural remedies and lifestyle changes. Some of the ways through which you can avoid or relieve the symptoms of varicose veins in your feet at home include:
- Eating a balanced diet to supply your body with essential nutrients
- Engaging in regular physical exercises to ensure proper blood circulation in your feet
- Avoiding stressors by applying proper stress management techniques
Medical help may be necessary if the symptoms of varicose veins in your feet persist despite applying the aforementioned self-care tips. Varicose vein treatment can become necessary, especially if it helps you restore your feet’s good appearance and avoid any complications, such as blood clots and bleeding, related to varicose veins.
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