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Five ways to maximize your vein health this holiday season

While the holidays are all about family, friends and fun, they also can be stressful and wreak havoc on your legs. All the extra hours of shopping, cooking and traveling can take their toll, leaving your legs achy and swollen. So, as we get this holiday season started, here are some tips to give your veins the care they need. 

1. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE 

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising during the holiday season are never easy. Exercise helps the calf pump blood back to your heart, which helps promote healthy veins. Diets rich in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants aid in strengthening vein walls, thus contributing to overall vein health. 

So, for Thanksgiving, fill your plates with cranberries, turkey, green vegetables and sweet potatoes, as they are packed with vein health benefits. Avoid foods high in salt, as these can contribute to swelling and discomfort for those with varicose veins. 

And, of course, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated aids healthy blood flow and is essential for good vein health. 

2. WEAR COMPRESSION SOCKS 

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with compression socks, but they are an effective way to apply gradient pressure to the lower leg veins, which helps blood flow back to the heart and reduces the chance of blood pooling in the legs. Especially if you travel this holiday season, compression socks can be effective in relieving pain and reducing leg swelling associated with varicose veins. 

3. BE FASHIONABLE, BUT COMFORTABLE 

While compression socks are beneficial to vein health, wearing tight, restrictive clothing around the waist and stomach can make it more difficult for blood to move from the legs back to the heart. Although we love sexy footwear, heels can inhibit your calf pump while low-heeled shoes help promote calf-pumping action. 

4. GIVE YOUR LEGS A BREAK 

Hours traveling by car or plane can be very uncomfortable for those suffering from varicose veins. On long car rides, plan to stop about every two hours to get out and walk around a bit. On a plane, try walking the cabin aisle every hour or so. Taking walk breaks can help reduce the pain and swelling associated with varicose veins. While you are seated, performing calf flexes, pointing toes and rotating ankles frequently can help your veins push blood back up to the heart. After a long day of traveling, prop up your legs above your heart to let gravity assist with proper blood flow. 

5. SEEK TREATMENT 

While all these tips are helpful, the best way to eliminate the pain and unsightliness of varicose and spider veins is to seek treatment from a board-certified vein specialist. Some minimally invasive procedures with little downtime can have you dancing the night away with your family and friends this holiday season. 

Written by Dr. Keith Thompson

Dr. Keith Thompson is a full-time vein specialist and board-certified vascular surgeon. He is the director of the Vein Institute of South Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Reach him at (601) 336-8368.

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