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How does constipation increase the risk for varicose veins?

I know that by introducing more fiber into my diet, I can reduce constipation, which I have heard can in turn can reduce the risk for varicose veins. How does constipation lead to varicose veins?

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Doctors Answers (6)

There is no relationship between that and varicose veins. A high fiber diet based on greens is always a healthy solution for most people.

Constipation is primarily a risk for varicose veins in the pelvic region: hemorrhoids, vulvar or scrotal varicose veins, and some upper thigh varicose veins (ones with some connection to pelvic veins).

Varicose veins are due mostly to genetics, age, obesity, number of pregnancies, and prolonged sitting or standing still. While straining to pass a bowel movement will increase the pressure in the abdominal and leg veins during the straining, it is not likely to be a major contributor, except to hemorrhoids, which are varicose veins at the anus.

Chronic constipation usually due to your diet will benefit from increased fiber, but the quality of the diet should also be improved. Fiber is removed from processed foods to make them softer and more palatable. A modern western diet of processed "junk" foods leads to highly compacted clay-like stools which take a much longer travel time through the intestine, have a much lower water content, and require prolonged straining of abdominal muscles to have each bowel movement. This increased abdominal pressure will cause an increased venous obstruction and elevated venous pressures in the legs that can eventually produce varicose veins. Constipation during pregnancy can be particularly contributory to the forming of varicose veins. Constipation also contributes to other serious medical conditions such as diverticulitis due to the increased intestinal pressures. I recommend supplementing with a non-sweetened, non-gas forming fiber such as Citracel (which stands for citrus flavored cellulose and is completely non-fermentable) taken with water or liquids. The Citracel fiber pills are easier to take than the older gritty orange powder mixed with water.

Constipation causes you to bear down when having a bowel movement. This increases venous pressure and can potentially increase the risk of bulging varicose veins.

Hemorrhoids are essentially varicose veins. Chronic straining from constipation cases engorgement of your veins. If you have chronic venous insufficiency, this type of straining can make veins worse.

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