How Does the Colder Weather Affect My Varicose Veins?

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Cold weather, varicose veins

There’s little doubt that the weather can affect your varicose veins. Vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency, is the underlying cause of varicose and spider veins. It develops over time when veins are placed under ongoing strain due to lifestyle and genetic factors.

The term “venous insufficiency” refers to a process in which tiny one-way valves in the veins malfunction. This can cause blood to flow in the wrong direction and pool in certain regions. Most commonly, the legs, ankles, and feet are affected. When your blood starts to pool in this way, varicose veins often form.

During hot summer months, many individuals experience worsening venous symptoms like leg swelling and fatigue. This is because when the weather gets warm, a condition called venous distention can develop. The sun’s warmth causes your veins to dilate and fill with more blood. Not only that, but the increased blood flows more easily through your veins, which leads to additional vein growth.

On the other hand, winter weather offers the potential for symptomatic relief to those suffering from vein disease. Colder weather can alleviate the effects of vein disease in a number of ways. For instance, lower temperatures can promote better blood circulation, shrink enlarged veins, and alleviate painful and uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Tired, aching legs
  • Burning in the calf or thigh
  • Leg pain that feels better when you walk or raise your legs
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Difficulty standing for long periods

However, you should be aware that just because your symptoms may improve in the cold doesn’t mean your vein problems are over. In fact, you may be at greater risk during colder seasons due to less physical activity and too much comfort food.

Here’s what we want you to know about cold weather and varicose veins.

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How Can I Help My Veins During Colder Weather?

The unfortunate reality of cold weather and varicose veins is that any positive impact experienced is usually only temporary. Plus, colder winter months have the potential to make your venous issues worse. This is because lifestyle choices can significantly impact your vein health.

When it’s cold, dark, and wet outside, many of us tend to move less, eat more, and gain weight. Although it may be comforting to snuggle up with a warm blanket and a pile of cookies, this type of behavior is a problem for your veins.

Certain lifestyle influences like inactivity, a poor diet, and obesity can ultimately make your varicose vein symptoms even worse. They can also increase your risk of developing additional and potentially dangerous health conditions like venous ulcers and blood clots.

In other words, take care not to ignore the impact of vein disease during times when you are feeling better. Instead, try to avoid the downsides of cold weather on your veins. To do this, we recommend:

  • Exercise regularly: We understand that seasonally shorter days and poor weather can make this a challenge. However, finding an outlet for physical activity on most days is key. To improve your blood flow, aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. You can head to the gym, try a workout video at home, or invest in some outdoor winter workout gear.
  • Avoid prolonged sitting or standing: Along with getting in your workouts, it is essential to move around throughout the day. If you have a job that requires long periods of sitting or standing, try to take frequent breaks. During these, walk around or elevate your feet. When stuck in place, you can also massage or stretch out your legs to promote better blood circulation.
  • Eat a healthy diet: We suggest that you focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Avoid or limit sodium, added sugars, alcohol, and caffeine. 
  • Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI): Extra pounds can strain your veins, lead to venous insufficiency, and worsen varicose vein symptoms. Losing weight can improve your vein health. 
  • Wear compression socks: The use of compression can help alleviate varicose vein symptoms. During winter, they offer the added benefit of keeping you warm! Ask your doctor about which size and type are best for you. 

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Do My Veins Show More in Colder Weather?

Do veins show more when cold? No, the opposite is usually true. Veins tend to shrink and become less noticeable during colder weather. However, less visible veins also depend on maintaining a healthy lifestyle year-round.

If you remain inactive and eat poorly when it’s cold outside, you may end up aggravating your symptoms. Even worse, you can develop additional venous issues. Some of these, such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), can be life-threatening.

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Where Can I Find Varicose Vein Treatment?

No matter what time of year it is, we want you to know that minimally-invasive vein treatment is widely available. Unfortunately, varicose veins do not disappear on their own –– even during colder weather. The good news is that there is no need to suffer from vein pain and discomfort any longer.

At USA Vein Clinics, our vein experts offer many state-of-the-art treatment options, including Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), the VenaSeal Closure System, and more. We can provide treatment over your lunch hour in any of our specialized clinics. Afterward, you can return to most normal activities immediately.

Don’t wait around for hot summer temperatures to arrive. Simply schedule an initial consultation online with one of our leading experts today. For your convenience, we offer both in-person and telemedicine appointments. 

Wherever you book your visit, we look forward to meeting you!

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