Varicose veins and spider veins often develop as people get older. Because they are so common, many see them as a natural part of life. However, there are patients who worry that these veins are more than a cosmetic issue. Can varicose veins kill you?
What Are Varicose Veins?
Our veins play an important role in our circulatory system. They return blood from our tissues to our heart, so this blood can be cleansed, oxygenated, and then returned to nourish tissues. Because humans stand upright, the veins in our legs have a complex system of valves to keep blood moving upward against gravity.
Our veins do not just return blood to the heart, but metabolic wastes as well. This allows our liver and kidneys to perform their detoxifying role. Over time, tissues can be harmed by a lack of venous supply because they cannot adequately remove waste products. The engorgement of blood unable to return to the heart also blocks a supply of fresh, oxygenated arterial blood.
Over time, some of our veins lose the ability to keep blood moving toward our heart. Blood can back up and pool in smaller veins. This is called chronic venous insufficiency. The distended, sometimes uncomfortable purple and blue veins that this leaves are called varicose veins. Although these veins can be free of symptoms, they can also cause aching, burning, itching, and a variety of uncomfortable sensations.
In addition, varicose veins can be unsightly. They are usually swollen, purple or blue, and tortuous. Many people feel insecure because of these very noticeable veins on their legs.
The Risks of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are not inherently dangerous for most people. However, there are several complications that can be caused by them. In addition, these unattractive veins can be a sign of other health problems.
People who have varicose veins have a higher risk of thrombophlebitis, which occurs when a blood clot is trapped in a superficial vein and causes swelling and tenderness. They also have six times the risk of deep vein thrombosis, or DVTs. This is a serious disorder which can be life-threatening. It occurs when pooling blood in the deep veins of the leg forms a clot. This clot can travel to the heart or the lungs, where it can restrict blood flow and cause cell death. This can be a critical situation.
Visible varicose veins are superficial and thus cannot cause DVTs. However, they are a visible sign that the veins of the lower extremity are not functioning sufficiently anymore. This should always be taken seriously.
Last, pooled blood in the legs leaves people more prone to bleeding and ulcers. The varicose veins are weak and easily damaged, leading to a variety of issues in the lower extremity.
If you or a loved one have varicose veins, it is important to have them checked and if necessary treated. This will reduce the risk of complications and also improve the appearance of these veins almost immediately.
Medical Disorders Associated with Varicose and Spider Veins
It is important to get varicose veins examined by a physician or other health care professional. In some cases, the appearance of these veins can be an indication that other health problems exist and have not been adequately treated.
Many people get these veins either as they age, if they gain a large amount of weight, or when they are pregnant. If these veins appear in someone who is young and healthy, they can be a sign of an inborn medical issue, including venous and connective tissue diseases.
In addition, varicose veins can be a sign of cardiovascular disease or even diabetes. Many people do not realise that they have these illnesses in the very earliest stages, when they are easiest to treat.
Treatments for Vein Disorders
There are several ways to manage and treat vein disorders such as varicose veins. First, many people find that staying active and wearing compression socks can reduce the discomfort and swelling. Both of these suggestions increase the pressure in the legs, which helps to move blood and fluid up to the heart.
However these will not make the veins go away. There are several treatments for veins that can reduce or eliminate them. Laser surgery, ultrasound therapy, and ablation all are minimally invasive treatment options that can have a marked effect. These treatments will not just make the veins less attractive, but reduce the risk of deadly complications.
Many people in past generations simply lived with varicose veins. However, modern people do not need to do this. We now know that varicose veins and spider veins should be taken seriously as a sign of venous disorders. In addition, we have a variety of treatments that can reduce their pain, discomfort, and unattractiveness while helping people to live long and healthy lives free of complications.