Do you ever wonder why you have varicose veins, especially on your legs or lower extremities? You can commonly see them in working women but men do have them as well. It is reported in a study that varicose veins are prevalent 25% in women and 7% in men.
Varicose veins are characteristically defined as “ swollen and enlarged veins that usually occur on the legs and feet. They may be blue or dark purple and are often lumpy, bulging, or twisted in appearance. Other symptoms include aching, heavy, and uncomfortable legs. swollen feet and ankles” (https://www.google.com/search). They are present due to excessive sitting and standing postures during 75% of working hours. They usually cause discomfort and pain however, they can also be present without the accompanying pain.
Symptoms of varicose veins can be seen as (https://www.mayoclinic.org/):
- Achy and heavy feeling in your legs
- Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping, and swelling in your lower legs
- Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
- Itching around one or more of your veins
- Skin discoloration around a varicose vein
Causes of Varicose Veins
- Weak or damaged valves
- Increased blood pressure
Risk Factors for Varicose Veins ( taken verbatim from https://www.mayoclinic.org/)
- Varicose veins’ presence increases with age - Aging causes wear and tear on the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow. Eventually, that wear causes the valves to allow some blood to flow back into your veins where it collects instead of flowing up to your heart.
- Sex - women are more likely at risk. Hormonal changes before your period or during pregnancy or menopause might be a factor because female hormones tend to relax vein walls. Hormone treatments, such as birth control pills, might increase your risk of varicose veins.
- Obesity - Being overweight puts added pressure on your veins
- Pregnancy - during this period, the volume of blood in your body increases. This change supports the growing fetus but also can produce an unfortunate side effect — enlarged veins in your legs. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may also play a role.
- Family history - other family members who had varicose veins, may spur a greater chance of you having it too.
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time - blood doesn't flow well if you're in the same position for long periods.
When you have varicose veins, there are also complications to watch out for according to Mayo clinic, such as:
- Bleeding - there are times that veins very close to the skin may burst. This usually causes only minor bleeding. But any bleeding requires medical attention.
- Ulcers - painful ulcers formation on the skin near varicose veins, particularly near the ankles is possible. A discolored spot on the skin usually begins before an ulcer forms. See your doctor immediately if you suspect you've developed an ulcer.
- Blood clots - there are times that veins deep within the legs become enlarged. In such cases, the affected leg may become painful and swell. Any persistent leg pain or swelling needs medical attention because it may indicate a blood clot — a condition known medically as thrombophlebitis.
Before a treatment or medical intervention is made, “diagnosis is done through a complete medical history and physical examination. Diagnostic procedures include a duplex ultrasound which is a type of vascular ultrasound done to check blood flow and the structure of the leg veins. Duplex denotes two types of ultrasound are used “(https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/).
Treatments of this condition will be based on:
- Medical history
- Overall health condition
- Signs and symptoms
- Patient’s tolerance to specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
Treatments may Include:
- Elevating your legs about the level of your heart 3 or 4 times a day for about 15 minutes at a time.
- Use of compression stockings - Elastic stockings squeeze the veins and prevent blood from pooling. Compression stockings can be effective if they are worn every day.
- Sclerotherapy - “the most common treatment for both spider and varicose veins. A salt (saline) or chemical solution is injected into the varicose veins. They no longer carry blood. And, other veins take over.”
- Vein stripping - surgery to remove varicose veins.
- Thermal ablation - “Lasers or radiofrequency energy may be used to treat varicose veins. A tiny fiber is inserted into a varicose vein through a catheter. The laser or radiofrequency energy is used to deliver heat that destroys the wall of the varicose vein.”
- Microphlebectomy - "Special tools are inserted through small cuts (incisions)to remove varicose veins. It may be done alone or with vein stripping."
While treatments are available for varicose veins, it is better to prevent them from occurring by doing several activities that would veer them away and stop them from happening. Mayo Clinic has suggestions for you such as:
- Watching or monitoring your weight
- Avoiding high heels and tight hosiery
- Elevating your legs
- Eating a high-fiber, low-salt diet
- Changing your sitting or standing position regularly
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