You probably hear about varicose veins and automatically think that if you are a man, you do not have to worry about them because it is a “woman’s disease,” but you would be very wrong.
While it is true that this is a condition that is primarily reported by middle-aged women, anywhere between 17 to over 50 percent of men in the United States may develop varicose veins in their lifetime.
What Causes Varicose Veins in Men
Varicose veins are veins, usually in the legs, that have become enlarged to the point that they seem the bulge out of the skin. These kinds of veins are best identified by the purple or blue hue and the fact that they protrude greatly.
While they are relatively harmless, they can create some level of discomfort in the legs and feet. They are also a sign of poor blood circulation through the body, especially in your lower extremities, which can be a major cause for concern.
Between 17 – 50% of Men May Develop Varicose Veins
Why Do You Only Hear About it With Women?
Women will not waste time trying to hide or deny the presence of something like varicose veins because they find it cosmetically unattractive. Because most men do not really feel bothered by how their legs look, they avoid seeking treatment and let the condition be.
In some cases, men may not even actually be aware they have it. But, by allowing them to go untreated, there is a potential that the problem will grow beyond be mostly cosmetic and lead to a number of other health problems.
What Are the Causes of Varicose Veins in Men?
While people assume lifestyle is the biggest cause of varicose veins, family history is another big factor to consider. If there is a history of varicose veins in your family, then it is possible that you may develop it yourself.
But, lifestyle is still a big factor in whether or not a man or woman develops varicose veins. In fact, a 2005 study by the NIH found that varicose veins are most common in Western Nations where people do not perform a lot of physical activity.
People who spend all day sitting at a desk without getting up to move are allowing their blood to start pooling, which is one-way varicose veins may develop. But, people such as teachers and professors who stand for long periods of time are also at risk because standing for so long puts more pressure on their legs and slows circulation.
Other factors include age, as you are more at risk the older you get. For men, varicose veins are more common when they are closer to their 70s though they can occur when they are younger as well. This happens because as people age, tissue and muscle mass gets lost, leaving less protection for the veins.
What Varicose Veins Mean for Men
A number of problems can occur if varicose veins go untreated. One such problem includes the formation of ulcers, which can result from a cut or scrape not being able to properly heal. Ulcers tend to be very painful and form near varicose veins, especially around the ankles. If you noticed a discolored spot on the skin around your varicose veins, it could be a sign of an ulcer forming and should be taken care of by a doctor.
Other problems include blood clots, which can cause a significant increase in swelling in the legs and require immediate medical attention. Bleeding is another problem that can occur, as the skin may break more easily. While it seems trivial, it is something that can happen repeatedly and lead to infection.
How to Prevent Varicose Veins
The easiest way to prevent varicose veins as a man or a woman is to keep blood flowing regularly. You can do that by getting regular exercise, at minimum 30 minutes a day, as it will get your heart pumping and blood will start to flow more easily.
If your workday consists of you sitting at your desk for 8 hours, then it is important to get up every now and then to stretch your legs and allow the blood to flow again, rather than allowing it to pool.
While sitting, it may also help to keep legs elevated in a way the will encourage the blood to flow. The opposite can be said for people who spend a lot of time on their feet; take a few minutes to sit down and give your legs a break.
Other ways to prevent varicose veins is to eat a more balanced diet. By cutting out foods that are high in sodium, you can drastically reduce your risk of developing varicose veins.
Foods that can increase the oxygen levels in the body can also be a great help. Nutrients such as iron, Folate, and Vitamin B-12 can all help with the production of oxygen. Meaning eating more red meats, fish, beans, nuts, and fruits can help increase blood circulation. Talk to your doctor before making such changes to your diet.
“The easiest way to prevent varicose veins as a man or a woman is to keep blood flowing regularly.”
Treating Varicose Veins
There are three main treatments for varicose veins, including:
Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT), where a small laser to heat up and essentially kill the diseased vein. The vein then gets reabsorbed into the body, effectively eliminating the problem.
Sclerotherapy is similar to EVLT, but it works through the injection of an irritating liquid being inserted into diseased veins, which eventually kills it and allows it to be reabsorbed by the body.
Clarivein is another procedure and is the least invasive and most effective treatment. It uses a non-thermal catheter to get into diseased veins and spray it with a formula to freeze and kill the vein.
Varicose veins are not just a woman’s problem- more and more men are being affected by them, and leaving this condition untreated can lead to serious repercussions. If you have varicose veins or suspect you have varicose veins, seek treatment to have them removed before they become any worse and start forming other problems.