Health Guide

Varicose veins

What is it?

Varicose (vair-ih-koss) veins are swollen veins over-filled with blood. The blood makes them look red, blue, or purple. These veins are usually in the legs. But you may have varicose veins in other parts of the body, such as around your anus (rear end).


Leg veins have valves that help blood return to the heart. Sometimes the valves get weak and blood leaks backward. This may put much pressure in the veins which causes them to swell or stretch. A family history of varicose veins may also cause them. Other causes may be standing for long periods of time, pregnancy, or vein disease. You may get varicose veins from diseases that put pressure on your abdomen (belly) which puts pressure on your legs.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may have swollen, ropelike, or bluish veins that you can see under the skin. Other signs may be pain or aching in your legs, usually after being tired or standing.

Wellness Recommendations:

  • Exercise improves the blood flow in your body. Try to exercise at least three or more times a week.
  • Do not sit in the same position for long periods of time. And, do not sit with your legs crossed, even at the ankles. Walk around a few minutes every hour. A short walk gets the blood moving in your legs.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.

Medical Care:

Do not wear tight clothing around your waist. Elastic support hose will improve the blood flow to and from your legs. Put the hose on before getting out of bed. Rest your legs whenever possible. Raise your legs higher than your heart when your legs hurt or throb. You may need surgery for your varicose veins. Sometimes a chemical is injected ("shot") into small varicose veins to get them to clot and scar. Other veins will then take over the blood circulation to the affected area.

Dietary Measures:

  • You may be more likely of having varicose veins if you eat a low fiber diet. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat varicose veins.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


      • You have a sore on you leg that will not heal.
      • You have a bad pain in your leg.
      • You have a hard swelling in your leg.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


      1. Bergstein NAM: Clinical study on the efficacy of O-(B- hydroxyethyl)rutoside (HR) in varicosis of pregnancy. J Int Med Res 1975; 3(3):189-193.

      2. Burkitt DP: Varicose veins: facts and fantasy. Arch Surg 1976; 111(12):1327-1332.

      3. Diehm C, Vollbrecht D, Amendt K et al: Medical edema protection-clinical benefit in patients with chronic deep vein incompetence: a placebo controlled double blind study. Vasa 1992; 21(2):188-192.

      4. Ghiringhelli C, Gregoratti L & Marastoni F: Capillarotropic activity of anthocyanosides in high doses in phlebopathic stasis. Estratto Minerva Cardioangiologica 1977: 1-31.

      Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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