Brief introduction on varicose veins
When the veins become gnarled and enlarged, it is known as varicose veins. This can happen to any vein, but most often the affected veins are those of your feet and legs. This is so because there is an increase in the pressure in your lower body veins due to standing and walking upright. Not for everyone, but for some it can cause pain and discomfort. At times, it can also lead to serious health issues and develop the risk of circulatory problems. A person might experience symptoms like dark purple or blue color veins, bulging veins, heavy and achy feeling in the legs, cramping, burning and swelling on your lower legs, itching around the veins and skin ulcers near the ankle (in serious cases).
What causes varicose veins
Varicose veins are caused due to:
Age: With age, your veins can lose elasticity due to which they get stretched. This weakens the valves in your veins, because of which the blood that is suppose to move towards the heart begins to move backwards. Due to this, blood is gathered in the veins causing them to expand and become varicose. The veins look bluish in color as they contain deoxygenated blood.
Pregnancy: Varicose veins might develop in some pregnant women. The volume of blood increases in the body during the pregnancy, but at the same time there is reduction in the flow of blood from the legs to the pelvis. This is a natural process designed for the growth of fetus, but unfortunately causes enlarged veins in the legs as a part of side effect. As the time passes, uterus exerts more pressure on the veins in the legs and worsens varicose veins. Hormonal changes during pregnancy might also contribute in giving rise to varicose veins.
Other factors that increase the risk of developing varicose veins are:
Gender: Varicose veins occur more often in women as compared to men. Hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy, menopause or premenstruation can increase the risk of varicose veins. The risk of varicose veins is also increased by intake of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.
Obesity: Being overweight can increase the pressure on the veins.
Family history: If any of your family members had / has varicose veins, it increases your chances of getting it too.
Sitting or standing for a long period of time: Being in a same position for a long time prevents blood flow.
Treatment for varicose veins
Varicose veins caused due to pregnancy do not require any treatment and fades away on its own within three to twelve months after giving birth to the baby. Severe varicose veins can be treated by sclerotherapy, laser surgery, catheter-assisted procedures, vein stripping, ambulatory phlebectomy and endoscopic vein therapy. The following self care measure help in treating as well as preventing varicose veins:
- Reduce weight (if you are overweight)
- Take low salt diet
- Avoid wearing high heels or tight clothes
- Elevate your legs
- Avoiding sitting or standing in one position for a long time
- Don’t sit with legs crossed