What do varicose veins and sleep apnea have in common? It turns out compression stockings may help to relieve both conditions. A recent study suggests compression stockings, a common treatment for spider and varicose veins, may also reduce episodes of sleep apnea. While the stockings won’t “cure” either condition, they may bring significant relief without surgery or bulky machines.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially serious condition in which the person stops breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. Episodes of apnea, which are caused by a narrowed or blocked airway, may occur 30 or more times each hour. The condition increases risk for other serious medical conditions, including high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and diabetes. People that suffer with this condition may also go through their days fighting fatigue due to poor quality of sleep at night.

About the Study

Researchers in Toronto used nearly 50 subjects that had been diagnosed OSA to determine whether compression stockings had any positive effect on the condition. Twenty-two of those subjects wore compression stockings during the day for two weeks, while 23 subjects did not wear any compression stockings. In addition to measuring the number of apneas (sleep disruptions) the subjects experienced each night, researchers also looked at fluid volume in both the legs and neck.

Researchers found that subjects that wore the compression stockings had a 27-percent reduction in the number of apneas experienced throughout the night. In addition, researchers saw reductions in both leg and neck fluid in the subjects that wore the compression stockings, versus those that did not. Researchers concluded that while compression stockings did not completely eliminate OSA, they could improve a person’s condition from “severe” to “moderate.”

Why They Work

Compression stockings have already been shown to relieve symptoms of varicose veins by reducing the amount of fluid buildup in the lower legs. Theories have suggested that this fluid may displace overnight, creating a buildup of neck fluid that can lead to OSA. Researchers in this study found a correlation between lower levels of fluid in the legs and neck, indicating those theories might indeed by accurate.

Compression stockings are not an easy cure for varicose veins or OSA, but they can have a positive effect on symptoms. The stockings are non-invasive and often recommended as the first line of treatment with varicose and spider veins. Now, those with vein conditions may see an improvement in OSA as well. To learn more about compression stockings or other methods of treatment varicose veins, contact Incredible Veins Skin & Body at 818-446-2995.

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