Preventing Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
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Have you ever wondered why flight attendants, though in their smart-looking uniforms, wear those shiny, thick stockings? Well, that's because flight attendants have learned the art of preventing those ugly tiny branch-like and twigs-like things from crawling up their legs. Why wear them? To support their veins when they work. If walking and standing for almost 10 hours on a long-haul flight can put a strain on our legs, how much more the tiny veins that are underneath them.
'Varicose veins', according to Yahoo!health.com, are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin, commonly in the legs and ankles. There are also those which are small dilated bluish and red blood vessels near the surface of the skin or mucous membranes (usually in the nose, cheeks, chin, legs upper thigh, below the knee joint, and around the ankles) which are called 'spider veins'. These dilated veins are usually caused by the weakening of the vein walls and by faulty vein valves. Veins are blood vessels which transport the blood coming from different parts of our body toward the heart bringing the by-product of circulation which is carbon dioxide to the lungs. When the valves do not function properly, the blood pools, pressure builds up and the veins become dilated, weakened and twisted. Varicose veins in the legs may be related to the presence of venous hypertension within the underlying veins and may be attributed to age (peaks between 50 to 60 years old), gender (common in female), pregnancy and obesity, and lifestyle or occupation (prolonged sitting or standing).
So how do we prevent these varicose veins and spider veins from crawling up our legs?
1) Move, move, move. We need to exercise (Again, exercise!!!) regularly--walking, swimming, biking, running, etc. to improve blood circulation.
2) Avoid high-heel shoes. Well, those stilettos may look stylish but, ugh!, they crunch the toes so it is the buttock muscles that move and not the calf muscles slowing down the rate by which the blood pumps into our legs so it winds up pooling around the ankles.
3) If your work entails you to stand up for long periods, use support or compression stockings. I used to wear semi-support pantyhose. They squeeze the legs when you walk up and down the aisle so they help in the circulation of the blood in the legs.
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4) Elevate your legs after a long walk or standing for a long time. After a long-haul (10 hours) flight, I used to run a hot tub bath. I go inside the tub and elevate my legs for at least 20 minutes before I take the full bath. The warm water helps in the blood circulation and the elevation helps to bring down the pooled blood into the normal circulation.
Family Circle magazine, August 2007 issue