Tips for surviving the holidays with varicose veins


The holidays are a time of excess from long hours of shopping and standing in the kitchen to traveling near and far. All of these "extras" place demands on those with varicose veins and arterial disease.

Power shopping might knock off items from your holiday shopping list, but for venous disease sufferers it can lead to an increase of legs cramps and painful, heavy legs.

What can you do to offset the effects of the holidays on your venous system?

  1. Maintain your healthy habits

Exercise regiments and healthy eating can fall to the wayside during the holidays. With the increased demands on your circulatory system and your legs, it is more important than ever to stick with your exercise schedule and to eat healthy.

Delicious food seems to be everywhere during the holidays. Think twice before putting anything in your mouth that you do not usually include as part of your healthy diet.

After the holidays you will be glad you did not gain an extra 3, 4 or 5 pounds. As you probably know, extra body weight contributes to the development of varicose veins and the challenges of living with the disease.

  1. Pack snacks before heading out

Hours of shopping requires a snack bag that you have packed from home. Protein is a must for your snack pack; extra protein will help curb your craving for sugar. Great choices for protein include unsalted nuts, a cheese stick or a hard-boiled egg. Round out your snack bag with high fiber crackers and a sliced apple or a handful of carrot sticks. Don’t forget a bottle filled with water so you stay hydrated.

A snack pack will come in handy before you head out to a holiday party or after-hours celebration, too.

  1. Wear your stockings

Compression stockings and compression hose can reduce the symptoms of tired, swollen legs when you are on your feet for long hours or traveling. Compression socks and hose are available in varying degrees of compression. Talk to your doctor about which kind is best for you. While the compression from the hosiery will offer some relief, the stockings are not a long-term solution.

  1. Travel smart

Crowded airports, sitting elbow to elbow on full airplanes and long car trips on congested roads certainly can make holiday travel very difficult. High altitudes while flying and long periods of sitting either in the car or on an airplane, can lead to swelling and increase the potential of blood clots.

On travel days, be sure to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing. Pack your skinny jeans to wear once you have arrived at your destination.

When on the road, stop every couple of hours and walk around for five minutes. If you are traveling by air, get up once an hour and walk through the cabin, and while sitting rotate your ankles (clockwise and counter-clockwise) then point and flex your feet and calves.

  1. Stay hydrated

Whether you are shopping long hours, in the kitchen all day or traveling, remember to stay hydrated. Opt for water and low-sodium beverages. Keep a full water bottle with you while out and about or with you in the kitchen or while you are taking care of household chores.

For many sufferers, the busy holiday season is a good time to seek treatment for their varicose veins. Not only is recovery typically short but being active promotes healing. San Diego Vein Institute specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins, spider veins and venous disease. San Diego Vein Institute is located at 336 Encinitas Boulevard, Suite 130, Encinitas, CA 92024. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (760) 944-9263 or visit