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Varicose Veins <br> Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors & Treatment

Varicose Veins
Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors & Treatment

Have you ever noticed blue and sometimes swelled-up lines on your or anybody else’s calves? These are varicose veins that develop due to prolonged standing or sitting. These vary in size and intensity. The thinner blue lines that appear like a spider web are generally known as spider veins.  

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are veins that swelled up and appear blue due to pressure built up in them for any possible reason. These veins may appear blue and are often seen on legs and feet. Varicose veins appear if the valves present in veins fail to stop the blood from backflowing or if veins become dilated.

Overweight or obese aged females are at greater risk of developing varicose veins. But these varicose veins can reverse by following a good exercise regime and wearing good elastic stockings. In more severe cases medication or surgery may be required.

Spider veins

Spider veins are thinner red, blue, or purple-colored vessels and they also appear on the lower limbs. These are milder forms of varicose veins that appear like a spider web. Spider veins are visible on the skin but as they are thinner don’t appear to bulge on the skin like varicose veins.

The spider veins are usually formed due to twists and turns in capillaries are the thinnest and smallest blood vessels and form a network appearing like branches of a tree or spider web.

Symptoms of varicose veins

  • Red purple or blue veins

The main and most common symptom is the appearance of red, purple, or blue swelled-up veins. These veins are easily seen and felt on the skin.

  • Heaviness in legs

The varicose veins may sometimes cause the legs to feel heavier and tired.

  • Itching on the skin

Itching on the skin is quite common along with the appearance of varicose veins.

  • Color changes on the skin around varicose veins

The skin often turns red or purple around varicose veins.

  • Pain in legs

Aged people tend to feel pain and cramps in their legs due to varicose veins.

  • Irritability and tingling sensation

Any kind of discomfort in the legs may come along varicose veins.

  • Swelling

Legs swell up in some cases due to pressure.

  • Ulcers

In very severe cases the ulcers may also develop on the skin.

Causes of varicose veins

Veins are the blood vessels that carry blood from the body toward the heart. These blood vessels are provided with valves that prevent the backward flow of the blood, as in most veins blood flows against gravity. Sometimes these valves are impaired and some of the blood may flow backward.

The veins in the legs have to exert more pressure as these are the farthest from the heart. In case of weakness in veins walls or impairment in valves the backflow of blood causes the veins to enlarge and appear blue black or purple on the skin. This causes the appearance of varicose veins.

The two main causes of varicose veins include;

  1. Weakness in walls of veins.
  2. Impaired valves.

Risk factors for varicose veins

As discussed above varicose veins appear as a result of weakness in the walls of veins or any damage to valves in the veins. Some factors may increase the possibility of varicose veins in people.

  • Age
  • Female
  • Prolonged standing or sitting
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause 
  • Heredity
  • Injury

Treatment of varicose veins

The treatment of varicose veins varies with the severity of the condition. Initially, the varicose veins may be reversed by keeping the legs elevated for some part of the day, especially after standing for long periods of time.

But if it remains unnoticed and the condition worsens, the physician may prescribe some medication or surgery. Besides that, elastic stockings and some physical activity or massage may also help in healing.

The use of stockings or elevation of legs or affected limbs may reverse the symptoms but the varicose veins may appear again. Whereas the methods involving blocking of veins are more effective as they will prevent reappearing of varicose veins.

  • Elevating the legs

This is the most common method of treating varicose veins and by this method, these can be treated at home. You only have to lie down and keep your legs higher than your chest for some time. You may perform this several times in a day or when you go to bed. Another way is to rest your feet on a pillow or some other thing while sleeping.

  • Compression stockings

These elastic stockings are tight enough to squeeze the veins and prevent the blood from accumulating in the veins. These must not be too tight so that they prevent the blood flow to the feet and may cause numbness. 

  • Saline injections

Doctors sometimes inject the saline solution into the varicose veins which causes the walls of the veins to stick together. This way the veins are blocked and other veins take over.

  • Surgical procedure

In very severe cases surgical procedures are applied. Here are two procedures. In one method the affected vein is tied up to block and prevent the pooling of blood. This method is called ligation.

Another method involved cutting off the vein to prevent varicose veins from appearing. This method is called stripping. 

  • Radiotherapy

LASER and radiation may also be applied to varicose veins. These also cause the veins to block and hinder the blood flow in particular veins. This way the varicose veins may also be prevented from appearing again.

Overview

The varicose vein is a condition commonly occurring in post-menopausal females but that is not the only group that suffers from varicose veins. These are characterized by the appearance of red, purple, or blue colored lines that are often swollen, accompanied by pain, tingling, numbness, and discomfort in the legs. In some cases, itching or discoloration, and ulcers also appear on the skin.

Varicose veins appear due to accumulation of blood, enlargement of veins, or twisting of veins in the legs commonly. The main cause is weakened walls of veins or damaged valves.

Varicose veins are treated by resting the foot a little higher than the rest of the body or wearing stockings to prevent backflow of blood. In more severe cases the veins have to be blocked by either sticking up, tying up, or cutting off.

FAQs

1. When to worry about varicose veins?

The varicose veins may sometimes cause ulceration or discoloration of skin or swelling, numbness, and tingling in the limbs. Consult a general physician if any of these symptoms appear.

2. How to treat varicose veins?

Varicose veins are treated by merely elevating your legs or wearing compression stockings or something serious like blocking your vein by surgical procedure, radiotherapy, or injections depending on the severity of symptoms.

3. How to sleep with varicose veins?  

It is recommended to sleep with your feet or affected limb resting on a higher surface.

4. How to prevent varicose veins?

  • Avoid standing for longer hours
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Wear compression stockings if you are already suffering from varicose veins
  • Don’t wear too tight clothing

5. How to remove varicose veins in hands naturally?

The compression stocking or keeping the hands elevated or resting on something for some time in a day may be helpful in treating varicose veins in the hand naturally.

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