Varicose veins and other venous disorders such as chronic venous insufficiency now bother up to 50 million people in the United States. While there are many risk factors that can increase the risk of developing varicose veins, such as heredity, pregnancy, birth control pill, obesity, prolonged standing or sitting, etc., they’re all connected to weak vein walls or poorly functioning vein valves.
Vein valves help the heart pump blood against gravity and if they are damaged, proper blood circulation is compromised, blood starts pooling around calves and ankles, and that’s where swelling and heaviness in your legs come from. So, does alcohol have any effect on the circulatory process and can it aggravate existing varicose veins?
When you drink alcohol, your heart rate increases, which results in increased blood flow. This puts an extra workload on your vein valves and if they were already functioning poorly when you were sober, chances are the increased heart rate is not going to help. Alcohol also dilates veins which only aggravates the situation and makes it even harder for the blood to flow properly. Additionally, alcohol affects your liver – an organ that needs to filter your blood of toxins and waste, and if it’s overloaded with processing alcohol, the blood can get thicker and more viscous, yet another strain for the poor leg veins.
To sum it up, alcohol will not necessarily cause varicose veins or aggravate the already existing condition extremely. However, if you do suffer from chronic venous insufficiency, alcohol consumption can have a short-term negative effect and worsen the bothersome symptoms, such as swelling, feeling of heaviness and tired legs. Regardless of alcohol consumption, if you are experiencing symptoms of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency, you should have your legs thoroughly examined by a medical professional to avoid more serious conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis or leg ulcers.