The daunting responsibility of taking care of others requires a lot of time on your feet. Nurses tend to have a constant stream of patients each day allowing for little time to rest. Nearly 50% of American adults suffer from venous disease and nurses are especially prone to it due to the amount of time spent on their feet.
Most people have the basic understanding of how blood circulates throughout the body but have you ever considered how gravity plays into this? As you stand, the blood flowing from the legs up to the heart is fighting an uphill battle. Some leg veins utilize the support of bones and muscles to help aid this climb and others rely on vein valves to keep the flow in the right direction. As the vein valves weaken over time or as a result of sustained pressure, blood may slip backwards disrupting the normal flow. Prolonged periods of standing are a common risk factor for developing varicose veins but there are steps you can take to mitigate this risk.
If you have a number of risk factors working against you, varicose veins may be inevitable, but there are steps you can take to ease symptoms and delay onset. Nurses listen up, here are 7 tips on how to reduce your risk or delay the onset of varicose veins.
- Avoid standing in one position for too long. Since standing is a requirement, it is helpful to shift positions by alternating having one foot propped up for five minutes at a time throughout the day. Avoid locking your knees when standing and walk around or pace when possible to stimulate circulation.
- Put your feet up – literally! After a day in the vertical position get horizontal and prop those feet up. Let gravity work its magic against any pooling of blood or pressure that has built up during the day.
- Work to strengthen your legs. Strong muscles can help support the return of blood up the legs to the heart by constricting more firmly on the veins further assisting the vein valves in keeping blood flow in the right direction. Squats, calf raises and leg lifts are all great exercises to promote strong leg circulation!
- Reduce salt and alcohol intake. Realistically it is difficult to cut these out completely but be mindful of your intake and work to reduce it. Salt can cause water retention leading to tissue swelling adding pressure to the vein walls. Alcohol can dilate the veins making the job of the vein valves even harder and easier for blood to pool in the veins.
- Watch your weight. Added weight makes it difficult for the heart to efficiently pump blood. Maintaining a healthy weight promotes overall heart health and good circulation.
- Wear compression hose. Support hose, or compression hose, can easily be worn and hidden under scrubs. They are often a first line of defense prescribed by vascular specialists in reducing symptoms of varicose veins. They help to support circulation in the legs with graduated compression beginning with the highest compression at the feet or ankles and gradually easing as they go up the leg.
If you have varicose veins or they run in your family, consult an experienced vascular specialist about your options for treatment. Most treatments for varicose veins are covered by insurance and require little to no downtime. Request an appointment with the experienced surgeons at Knoxville’s Premier Vein Clinic online or by calling (865) 588-8229.