Tips for Nurses: How to Help Prevent Varicose Veins

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December 15, 2021 The Vein Institute

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 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 per cent to 90 per cent 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 for nurses: how to help prevent varicose veins.

What causes varicose veins?

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

Tips to help prevent varicose veins:

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 behaviours 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

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.

Learn more: Exercise and varicose veins: everything you need to know


Weight can impact varicose veins

Every extra pound 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.

Compression stockings are a game-changer

Medically-approved compression stockings improve 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 significantly reduce the amount of fatigue you feel at the end of a long day.

Diagram of a normal functioning vein with healthy vein valves, a varicose vein with damaged vein valves and then an image of how the varicose vein looks when compressed by wearing medical-grade compression stockings.

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. Alternatively elevating your legs at the end of your shift is also extremely beneficial. For example, lie down on a couch and place your feet on several pillows so that they are higher than your head.

Wear loose clothes and comfortable shoes

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 which help 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.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1300 535 017. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.

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