Varicose veins, also known as varicosities, are enlarged, swollen veins that happen when faulty valves in the veins permit blood to flow in the wrong direction. If the valves are damaged, the blood can flow backward and accumulate in the vein, increasing venous pressure. This eventually causes the vein to bulge and twist. Although they are not considered a severe medical condition, they may cause discomfort and irritability.
Some of the most common symptoms that are associated with varicose veins include; skin discoloration, sores on the legs, rashes, blood clots, swelling, and sensation in the legs. In extreme cases, varicose veins may give rise to long-term mild swelling, which may develop into more acute skin and tissue problems.
Several factors increase the risk potential of developing varicose veins, for example, genetics, aging, obesity, hormonal changes, and the level of your physical activities.
Also, some professions can significantly increase your chances of developing varicose veins. If you have a job that requires you to sit or stand for a prolonged period, you may be at risk of developing varicose veins. This is because your muscles become inactive, thus hindering blood circulation from your legs back up to your heart.
Professions associated with varicose veins include:
Teachers spend most of their time interacting with students and may also sit for extended hours marking papers, working on curriculum, or doing other official duties. Excessive and constant standing surges the pressure within the leg veins, thus increasing the risk potential of developing varicose veins. Also, female teachers who wear high heel shoes for prolonged periods tend to add strain to their legs and feet, thus interfering with proper circulation, leading to excessive accumulation of blood in the veins.
Similarly, sitting for long hours keeps the calf muscles inactive, thus compromising their effectiveness in helping the veins in pumping blood back up the legs. As blood collects in the affected vein, the valves become weakened leading to varicose veins.
If you are in the teaching profession, you can maintain healthier veins on the job by doing the following:
- After school, you can try calf raises or work in numerous squats to promote blood circulation, get rid of excess pressure from your veins, and strengthen them.
- Shift your standing position as much as you can.
- Avoid wearing high heels shoes repeatedly during working hours; instead, wear flat shoes as they will help tone your calves, thus enhancing the easier flow of blood in the veins.
- If you spent most of your time seated, support your feet on a footrest or a stool.
- Avoid sitting or standing in one position for too long. Try to move around after every 45 minutes.
Medical workers such as doctors, nurses, or surgeons are always on their feet, sometimes even 12 hours a day. They are required to work for extended periods without being able to walk or sit during working hours. For instance, doctors and surgeons perform lengthy surgeries, which makes them stand for long hours. This amount of standing for extended amounts of time can impose a considerable strain on the veins trying to pump blood back to the heart leading to venous insufficiency.
If you are a medical worker, you can help combat your risk of developing varicose veins by doing the following:
- While off duty exercise regularly.
- Since your work entails standing for long hours, wear flat, comfortable shoes with cushioned socks or insoles.
- Wear compressions stockings to enhance circulation and to prevent blood from accumulating in your leg veins.
- Ensure your working attire is loose-fitting to prevent circulation restriction.
3. Desk Jobs
Most desk jobs entail sitting all day answering phone calls or working on a computer. Sitting for long hours may put you at risk of developing severe medical complications such as obesity, increased pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels, which are highly linked to varicose veins.
A fixed sitting position compresses the blood vessels in the muscles, minimising the blood supply to the working muscles. Also, maintaining a steady, upright body position while sitting further prevents proper blood circulation from the lower legs to the heart. This leads to swollen or numbs legs which eventually develops into varicose veins.
Individuals who work at desk jobs can avoid the effects of sitting for too long by doing the following:
- Take a break from sitting every 30 to 45 minutes.
- Instead of sitting down while talking on the phone, stand up to ensure relaxation of your muscles.
- If your working desk can’t allow you to work while standing, try improvising it with a high table or counter.
- Put your working equipment such as a computer on a stand or a customised treadmill-ready vertical desk to ensure you maintain a continuous motion throughout the day.
4. Hospitality, Beauty and Retail
Like others who stand for prolonged periods, people working in the hospitality and beauty industry are also at high risk of developing varicose veins since they spend most of the time sitting or standing. Standing for extended hours causes veins to overwork to push blood back to the heart to become oxygenated. This causes blood to pool, and by the end of the day, they might develop pains and aches in their legs.
If you are in the hospitality or beauty industry, you can prevent the occurrence of varicose veins by doing the following:
- Adjust your schedule to take some breaks between clients or standing while blow-drying or cutting the hair; you can stand as this will assist in alleviating the strain on the venous system.
- Avoid overstretching beyond the point of comfort.
- When attending to a client, ensure you do not reach beyond the shoulder line.
- Wear shoes that offer a strong grip for the heel and freedom to move your toes.
- While standing, contract your leg muscles to facilitate proper circulation of blood.
People working in the transportation sector, particularly taxi and bus drivers, sit for many hours at a time. Sitting for too long poses adverse effects on their health as there is reduced involvement of the calf muscles to pump blood to various parts of the body. This stagnation position prevents proper circulation of blood in the entire body, which can be dangerous and can contribute to varicose veins and clotting of blood in the legs.
To reverse the harmful effects of sitting for too long, drivers should follow the following tips:
- Ensure you stop after few hours to walk around and to stretch your legs.
- Heel lifts on the curb will assist the muscle to expand, contract and stretch, thus enhancing blood flow through the veins.
- Take time to elevate your legs.
- Ensure you maintain a healthy weight by sticking to a balanced diet.
- Get regular, daily exercises while not at work to minimise the risk potential of developing varicose veins.
Modify Your Work Environment
The above list of professions is not exhaustive as several other jobs put people at risk of developing varicose veins and other cardiovascular problems. However, suppose you are in these professions. In that case, you can reverse the impact of these experiences by slightly adjusting your work environment and some other daily behaviours, and you will notice a significant effect on your overall health.
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