Also referred to as varicosities, varicose veins develop when the veins expand or become engorged and overcrowded with blood. Having a red or blue-purplish appearance, varicose veins can be very painful. They are commonly seen as engorged or elevated.
The condition mostly affects women; however, half of American citizens 50 years or older are affected by varicose veins. They are most commonly seen on the lower legs.
Sources of varicose veins
Blood is transported from the heart to the body tissues through the arteries. Your leg veins need to function opposite to gravity to transport blood back to the heart.
The elastic walls of the veins assist the blood in returning to the heart, and lower leg muscle contractions function as pumps. As blood travels to the heart, small valves that are found in the veins open and close to prevent the back flow of blood.
The following may lead to varicose veins:
- Age - your veins start losing elasticity as you age, causing them to stretch. The valves of the veins may weaken, causing blood to flow backwards. As blood accumulates in your veins, they start to expand and become varicose. The blue appearance of the veins is a result of deoxygenated blood.
- Pregnancy - Pregnant women are susceptible to varicose veins. Although the blood volume in the body increases during pregnancy, the blood flow from the legs to the pelvis is reduced. This alteration in circulation is meant to support the developing baby, although negative side effects include varicose veins.
Varicose veins may either become worse as the pregnancy nears the end or may appear at the initial time when the uterus puts force on the veins in the legs. The alterations of hormones at the time of pregnancy may also cause varicose veins. Pregnancy related varicose veins do not need medical treatment and normally clear on their own three to twelve months after giving birth.
When you should seek medical attention
You can prevent your varicose veins from worsening or ease their pain by exercising, raising your legs, or putting on compression stockings. You should visit your doctor if you are worried about the appearance of your veins and if self-care measures have not proven effective.
Factors that increase the chances of developing varicose veins
They include the following:
- Gender - Women are more susceptible to varicose veins. The changes in hormones at the time of menopause, pregnancy, and premenstruation can play a role, since the walls of the veins relax due to these hormones. Your risk of varicose veins may also be increased by contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy.
- Family history - There is a higher chance you will develop varicose veins if other members of your family have had them.
- Obesity - Carrying too much weight can exert excessive pressure on the veins.
- Sitting or standing for long - if you stay in the same position for too long, the blood will not flow properly.
Varicose veins complications
Although they rarely occur, varicose veins can cause complications, including:
- Ulcers - Painful ulcers may develop on the skin, especially around the ankles. Before the ulcer develops, a discolored spot on the skin will begin to show. Consult your doctor immediately if you discover this complication.
- Blood clots - The deep veins in the legs can at times become swollen. This results in the engorgement of the leg that has been affected. Immediate medication is required if your legs suddenly swell, since this may be a blood clot, a disorder referred to as thrombophlebitis.
- Bleeding - the veins beneath the skin's surface can rupture at times. Although minimal bleeding may occur, immediate medical treatment is required, since there are higher chances of future recurrences.
Varicose veins – a run through of the possible causes
Besides the above causes, there could be a number of factors and sometimes a combination of two or more factors that cause varicose veins. One of the most common ones could be obesity or being overweight. Individuals with unhealthy eating patterns, sedentary lifestyles, and binge routines put on excessive weight easily. Excess weight causes a lot of health problems, not just varicose veins. People who sit cross legged for consecutive hours, or work on their computers without taking a break, or those who stand for extended periods without much movement tend to develop varicose veins. The condition leads to inflammation, change of color, and prominence of veins, especially in the legs. Some of the other known causes are changes during pregnancy. The woman develops oedema or varicose veins near her feet, owing to the pressure and weight gain, especially if she gets nearly immobile. Thus, women who are pregnant are asked to lead a normal life with good amounts of physical activity spread through the day.
Heredity is believed to be another cause of varicose veins. In some cases, if the parent has varicose veins, their children seem to have varicose veins, too. However, this is a debatable point, as the condition could be a combination of more than one factor. Stay aware of the symptoms and be mindful of the causes and conditions of the ailment. Being aware is the first step to diagnosis and ensuing treatment. Taking care of the causes beforehand can help in preventing the condition all together. There are a number of congenital cases that are believed to cause varicose veins, especially those involving the heart and related conditions. Unnecessary pressure on the abdominal area can also lead to extra pressure and radiating pain. It could radiate to the legs and cause varicose veins in and around the area. It is recommended to get a thorough check up done and pay heed to the doctor’s advice, while taking care of your mobility, type of clothing to wear, and creams and pills to focus on. The condition can be diagnosed in a number of ways, as can it be treated. The patient is advised to stay calm and look at gradual improvement, while getting regular health check ups done from time to time.
Seeking medical advice is of the essence. If you see any signs or symptoms that may pertain to this issue, go to your nearest doctor.