Millions of people suffer from vein disease and typically a large majority of these people ignore the warning signs. They only seek medical attention when venous leg ulcers or another medical complication appears.
Understanding the various stages of vein disease, the signs and symptoms, ways you can lower the risk and when you need to take action.
The Early Stages of Vein Disease
As with many other conditions, vein disease has stages. In its earliest stages, you might not notice the symptoms, however, if your risk for vein disease is high, it’s crucial that you assess yourself.
During the early stages of vein disease:
- Spider veins – These small blood vessels are shaped like small webs and can be seen near the surface of your leg. Spider veins can look like tangled or scattered red or purple lines. They are also flat, which means you won’t feel any bulging when brushing your hand against them.
- Varicose veins – Varicose veins are vastly different than spider veins. These veins can become ropy and bulging. A lot of people tend to notice their vein disease after seeing varicose veins appear. Unlike spider veins, varicose veins can be painful. Patients generally seek treatment these veins are contributors to their leg pain, tingling, itching and restlessness.
The Later Stages of Vein Disease
Vein disease worsens over time when people refrain from getting treatment. If vein disease is allowed to go into the later stages, it can significantly impact your quality of life. Furthermore, it may prove to be difficult to alleviate the symptoms using over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
What you can expect in the later stages of vein disease:
- Swelling and skin discoloration – Varicose veins that are painful may lead to skin discoloration and swelling of the leg. If the veins aren’t working as they should, your body won’t be able to absorb any fluid, which will cause your leg to swell. In addition, the pooling of the body fluids may change the colour of your skin, mostly in the ankles. Your leg skin may turn pale or red. During this stage, open sores are more common.
- Venous leg ulcers – Venous leg ulcers usually follow the skin discoloration and leg swelling. If ulcers are developing, then that means there is an insufficient amount of blood flow in our veins. When this happens, the veins can’t give your body the proper nutrients to your skin so it can heal properly. Instead, the injured skin will heal at a very slow rate or won’t heal at all. Venous ulcers may also become painful, chronic and debilitating. Since these are open wounds, venous ulcers may introduce bacteria to your legs, making the pain worse and increases the risk for infections.
Albeit rare, vein disease can cause significant damage to a person’s lymphatic system. If your lymphatic stops working properly, it can cause lipid accumulation, which is when dangerous amounts of fatty materials pile up in cells. In turn, this will cause even more damage to the walls of the veins.
What are the risk factors for vein disease?
As with any condition, there are risk factors involved.
Other risk factors include:
- Sitting for long periods time
- Standing for long periods of time
Always assess yourself if you’re at risk for vein disease. Do your legs feel heavy when you’re standing? Are there spider veins forming? If you notice things such as these, go see a vascular specialist. If you don’t exhibit any warning signs, but identify with a few risk factors, here are a few things you can do:
- Take some time to exercise
- Refrain from standing and sitting for long periods of time
- Eat a healthy, nutritional diet
- Quit smoking
Treating Vein Disease
Treatment for vein disease is more than simply preventing venous leg ulcers and varicose veins. You’re taking the first step toward healthier veins and a functioning lymphatic system. Before getting into the treatments, understand that how you’re treated depends on how severe your vein disease is.
Methods to treats vein disease:
- Medications – Medication may be prescribed to help fight against infections and inflammation.
- Compression stockings – These one-size-fits-all stockings help give your legs the needed support by keeping your blood flowing properly the diseased veins.
- Microphlebectomy – This is a small operation that involves removing the diseased vein using a small nick with no need for stitches.
- Sclerotherapy – This procedure involves rerouting the blood flow in the diseased veins to healthier ones. Over time, your body will absorb the problematic vein(s).
- Endovenous Thermal Ablation – Heat or high-frequency radio waves via laser is used to stop the diseased vein, which the body will absorb.
When you notice the symptoms of vein disease for the first time, that’s when it’s best to see a medical professional. It’s never too late to treat vein disease in order to restore the quality of your life.
- Varicose Veins and the NHS’s Role in Treatment
- Treatment of Varicose Veins without Conventional Surgery
- Exercises to Help Alleviate Varicose Veins
- How to Reduce Appearance of Varicose Veins
- Varicose Veins Diagnosis & Management Guidelines by NICE