If you are a working nurse, you may have concerns about developing varicose veins. For many reasons, these fears are justified. Two of the biggest risk factors that determine one’s likelihood of developing vein diseases like varicose and spider veins are gender and lifestyle. Due to hormones women develop varicose veins more often than men. 85% to 90% of Australian nurses are women, that means that if you’re a female nurse in a profession that requires you to stand or sit for long periods of time, you are at increased risk. Male nurses are at risk of developing varicose veins as well, this article focuses on tips that can help nurses of either sex reduce their overall varicose vein risk.
Be aware of your personal vein health risk factors
Unfortunately there are certain risk factors that mean you are more likely to develop varicose veins. You are at a higher risk if you :
- Spend prolonged periods sitting or standing
- Are over the age of 50
- Have parents, grandparents, or siblings who have had them
- Are overweight
- Smoke cigarettes
- Are pregnant
- Are on the contraceptive pill
What can you do to reduce the risks?
Try to avoid long periods of sitting or standing
We understand that your job can require you to either be on your feet or sitting behind a desk most of the day, and unfortunately, both behaviors increase varicose vein risk. That said, there are things you can do to help. Whether standing or sitting, make a point of changing your position frequently. Shift your weight from one foot to another, and try to take “mini-breaks” every 30 minutes or so, in which you are able to walk around.
Exercise regularly when you’re not working
Again, we understand that after a long shift on your feet that exercising may seem counter-intuitive, but regular exercise is one of the most effective prevention methods for vein disease. You don’t need to become a marathon runner; even gentle walking several times a week or taking the stairs rather than the elevator will help to improve circulation, keep your veins healthy and lower your varicose vein risk.
Watch your weight
Every extra pound you carry around puts pressure on your veins and increases your vein disease risk. Along with regular exercise, maintaining healthy eating habits and reducing your intake of salt and alcohol can help reduce your risk. Salt/sodium causes tissue swelling and can impede proper blood flow. Alcohol dilates your veins, increasing blood flow to your feet and legs.
Consider wearing compression socks or stockings
Medically-approved support hosiery improves your veins’ ability to pump blood back to your heart and lungs. They work by compressing the superficial and deep veins and creating a ‘pump effect’ which minimises swelling and stimulates blood circulation. Wearing them during your shift can also significantly reduce the amount of fatigue you feel at the end of a long day.
Elevate your legs
If you have a “break room” or somewhere private you can go during your shift, try to spend a few minutes every few hours with your legs elevated. For example, lie down on a couch and place your feet on several pillows so that they are higher than your head.
Watch what you wear
Even if your uniform allows high heels, try to avoid them. Wearing low-heeled, comfortable shoes reduces the pressure on your valves and exercises your calf muscles more which helps to prevent varicose veins. Try to avoid underclothing like tights or Spanx that restrict circulation at your waist, legs, or groin.
If you already have varicose veins, or if you already know that your age, gender, and heredity profile places you at higher-than-normal risk for vein disease, seek treatment for them. Varicose veins can be effectively treated and removed, so if your legs are already showing signs of developing them, don’t wait, get help today. Give the specialists at The Vein Institute a call at 1 300 535 017, they are happy to help with all your questions.