Prolonged Standing and Varicose Vein Disease

varicose veins
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Are Varicose Veins an Occupational Hazard?

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Varicose Veins

If you’ve noticed that the veins in your legs are more visible and even swollen, you may be developing varicose veins.  But even if you don’t have symptoms such as tired, achy legs, you should know that prolonged standing is a risk factor, especially if you have a family history of leg veins and that you can take steps to reduce your risk.

Varicose veins refers to a condition where the valves in the veins are not able to do their job well.  They are weakened and cannot fully stop the backflow of blood as it is pumped through the body.  As a result, blood pools below these valves, causing the veins to swell and enlarge.  This can either affect veins closer to the surface of the skin and the smaller capillaries, which are often called spider veins or deeper and larger vessels can be affected resulting in bulging varicose veins.

What Are the Risk Factors for Varicose Veins?

Prolonged standing is a risk factor, which means every hair stylist and barber should understand this condition and how to prevent it.  Other risk factors include being female, being overweight or pregnant, getting older.  Some less common risk factors include liver disease, heart failure, blood clots and injury.

Many of these factors are not easily controlled, but two vital ones are: prolonged standing and weight.  We all know how important weight is to our overall health, and here is another reason to eat well and exercise regularly.  As a hair stylist or barber, it isn’t possible to avoid prolonged standing on the job, but being aware of the risk can help motivate you to avoid standing for long periods when you aren’t at work.

How to Proactively Reduce Your Risk

You can do more than try to find more time to exercise and sit down, and here are some critical tips for taking care of your circulatory health and reducing your risk of developing varicose veins.

  • Regularly elevate your legs.  When you get home, take 10 or 15 minutes to get comfortable and lay down with your legs elevated so your feet are higher than your waist for at least 30 minutes.  If you have a big comfy couch with arms, that can be an ideal spot.  Or you can lie on your bed with your feet on a pillow on the headrest.  Make it a habit to do this daily, preferably for a half an hour, but even if only for 10 minutes, this can be helpful as well.
  • Wear compression stockings at work.  You can’t avoid standing for long periods, but you can protect your health by wearing compression stockings when you are working.  Compression stockings also help if you have already developed varicose veins.  There are several degrees of compression available:  15-20 mm Mercury compression is suitable for preventative purposes if you have no leg veins and want to prevent tired, achy legs.  This level of compression can also be helpful for the early onset of superficial spider veins.  If the legs are bothersome and larger painful veins start to appear then 20-30 mm Mercury compression could be required to provide relief and minimize progression of the varicose vein disease.  If you develop bulging veins or leg swelling, then 30-40 mm Mercury compression or higher could be necessary to provide the additional support that your veins need.  Higher compression hose sometimes require a medical prescription so you might need to see your family physician to help you get these if required.

For the most part, varicose veins are not considered a serious medical problem, but they are uncomfortable and unsightly with the potential to lead to swelling, rashes, itching and leg ulcers in advanced cases.  Most of us would rather not have them, especially when it is so easy to take a few minutes a day to elevate the legs and to wear compression stockings. High fiber diets can also be beneficial to minimizing the problems associated with leg veins.  So, invest in your legs early in your career to make your daily activities as healthy as possible.

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