Diabetes and varicose veins. Is there a connection?

Varicose veins come about as we age – they appear to be enlarged, gnarled veins visible under the skin. Is there a connection between diabetes and varicose veins? A lot of people think that diabetes leads to varicose veins, but the truth is more complicated.

Does diabetes cause varicose veins?

The simple answer is no. Diabetes does not cause varicose veins. Not all diabetics develop them, and many who do not have diabetes develop varicose veins as they age.

The correlation between the two is the set of factors that causes them and recommendations for changing your lifestyle when you have one of these conditions.

Varicose veins happen due to venous insufficiency – a lack of quality blood flow to the veins, which causes blood to pool, causing visible enlargement.

The root cause of venous insufficiency is faulty valves not allowing blood to flow correctly. The blood beginning to be affected by gravity is why varicose veins appear most often in the lower extremities. Diabetes results from the body’s resistance to insulin or the production of insufficient insulin levels.

When both occur together, both varicose veins and diabetes (type II, specifically) occur in those higher in age, often overweight patients. Most of the time, they have a family history of the disease. Both issues occur during pregnancy, also.

Shared risk factors between diabetes and varicose veins

Diabetes and varicose veins are both possible in individuals who experience:

  • Aging
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Genetics

How can diabetes prevent varicose veins?

Remember, diabetes is not a cause for varicose veins, but it turns out that measures taken to prevent varicose veins can help with the circulation problems apparent in diabetics. Patients are normally told to avoid salt (sodium) and increase fiber intake to healthy levels. Elevating the legs at rest and avoiding restrictive clothing are also recommended in both cases.

How does diabetes affect circulation?

Type I and Type II diabetes affect circulation, damaging veins, and valves – this occurs due to increased levels of blood sugar. The better the disease is managed by the patient, the less damage that happens to the veins over time.

If blood sugars are high for too long a period of time, the results can present as edema, broken or ruptured veins, and permanent damage to organs and nerves. Kidney damage is common in those with diabetes because damage affects the body’s ability to filter blood.

Diabetics are more inclined toward open sores, wounds, and ulcers. Damaged nerves can lead to numbness, causing patients not to notice these skin concerns right away. The legs and feet should be looked at for these issues on a regular basis, both for damage and development of varicose veins and other issues.

What should patients do?

Although diabetes does not cause varicose veins, it can make the risks and damage associated with them higher. Untreated varicose veins can become infected, and infection can be critical and life-threatening in some cases. Diabetics have a higher chance of varicose veins due to their weakened immune system. 

We offer treatments for varicose veins like endovenous laser or ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy. These can be done without a general anesthetic as an outpatient procedure, minimizing downtime. The fact that surgery can be avoided is particularly important for diabetics, who tend to have problems healing quickly. We have the expertise to provide these amazing treatments in Ohio at our two vein clinics. Reach out to us via the online forms or phone numbers on our site today to take care of your vein issues.

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