Varicose veins are associated with the presence of large, dilated and twisting blood vessels on different parts of the body. Although many people have a perception that varicose veins can occur at any part of the body, especially where excessive pressure causes a weakness in the walls which causes blood vessels to swell. Any person can get varicose veins irrespective of your gender and age.
Some of the risk factors that increase the chances of an individual getting varicose veins to include;
Genetics – Varicose veins is a disorder that is likely to feature in different members of the same family, which is similar to other conditions like cancer. Information from scholarly reviewed journals indicates that there is 90% chance that you will get veins problems if both of your parents had experienced the same problem. The chances drastically reduce if only one of your parents had suffered from varicose veins.
Occupation – it has been discovered that individuals whose work involves standing for larger periods during the day or night, they are likely to have veins problems. This is brought about by the fact that veins have to work against gravity to push the blood back to the heart when one is standing. It is a common aspect to find people in specific occupations recording high incidences of varicose veins.
Pregnancy – During pregnancy, there is a probability that there would be hormonal imbalance causing an increase of hormone progesterone, which plays a significant role in weakening the walls of blood vessels. Weaker blood walls carry large volumes of blood which escalates the problem.
Lifestyle – being overweight increases pressure at your legs as they struggle to hold on to the excessive weight causing blood vessels to bulge. Moreover, individuals who have a lifestyle of continuous exercising and lifting weights play a significant role in increasing the chances of varicose veins.
Surgery or Physical Injuries – The flow of blood up towards the heart is controlled by a valve that acts as a one-door way, only allowing blood to flow upward but not downward. A leg surgery or an injury from lest say baseball damages the valve, it will not function optimally causing backflow of blood which can result to varicose veins.
Age – The likelihood of getting veins problems increases with a corresponding increase with age. As one age, there is a probability that the valves controlling blood flow will wear and tear, allowing blood to flow backward and accumulating in blood vessels causing them to dilate.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Large misshapen veins, especially on your legs
- Swelling on your legs
- Pain and Achiness around the swollen parts of the leg
- Heaviness on the affected parts (Legs)
Although many people have a perception that varicose veins are a cosmetic problem, specific situations might lead to a more significant problem than one might anticipate. Adverse signs such as excess pain, blood clotting, and skin infection are a sign that a more substantial health problem is facing you and you should consider seeing your doctor. Some situations justify why one should not ignore varicose veins and take precautionary measures to avoid unforeseen circumstances. Such conditions are discussed below.
1. Deep Vein Thrombosis
This is a severe medical condition that is caused by excessive blood clotting which later accumulates at the deep end of the veins. The situation becomes when some of the clotted blood detaches itself from the veins and is transported to the lungs through the normal blood flow. This process may cause a life-threatening health condition, mostly referred to as pulmonary embolism. One can quickly detect this through excessive pain, warm feeling, red, and painful leg.
2. Non-Healing Skin Ulcers
It is common knowledge that varicose veins cause swelling on the body parts that have blood at high pressure. The swelling, if stays over an extended period, causes changes on the skin such as failing to heal from minor injuries such as body scratches. Increased swelling may cause it difficult to heal the damages due to challenges in oxygen and nutrient supply. This may cause the skin not to heal from causing skin ulcers.
• Excessive Bleeding
Varicose veins carry large blood volumes just below the surface of the skin. A situation may arise where the vein might be cut through injuries leading to excessive blood loss. This can also happen when the skin breaks due to high blood pressure. This situation needs immediate medical attention as loss of large volumes of blood may lead to death. Individuals are also required to be extra cautious is blood clotting in such scenarios takes considerable time than normal exposing individuals to lack of blood in their bodies.
3. Swelling of Body Parts (Legs)
As blood accumulates below the skin without flow, a situation arises where the blood plasma moves through diffusion to the surrounding tissues, which causes swelling. Individuals detect the feeling after removing their socks or shoes. Continued swelling may cause the leg not to fit in your shoes. In severe situations, a yellowish discharge might be seen if the skin breaks. The condition can be solved through compression stockings or seek advice from a medical practitioner in extreme situations.
4. Infections on Skin Surfaces
Continued overstretching of the skin by the blood below the surface of the skin causes a situation where natural healing cannot be achieved. The body is not able to use its defense mechanisms against the opportunistic bacteria that are on the skin surface. Finally, bacteria and other disease-causing organisms access the soft tissues below the skin, causing skin infection that is hard to treat. This can easily be detected if you have a warm feeling or redness on your skin.
Varicose veins are also known to cause a condition where the veins below the skin experience inflammation just below the skin. Some of the resulting aspects include body tenderness, distinct red color on the surface of the skin, uncharacteristic swelling, and decreased blood flow. The situation might become worse if there is no blood flow in such a section. No blood flow means there is no supply of oxygen and other vital nutrients causing the tissues to die. Persistence in the death of body tissues may lead to the removal of some parts of the body, such as part of the foot.
If the condition is left unchecked for a lengthy period, a situation may arise whereby the excess blood on the veins start leaking to the parts of the tissues surrounding the blood vessel. The flow of blood to the surrounding tissues leads to swelling while at the same time causing an individual to experience excessive pain. A continued persistence of the flow of blood to the surrounding leg tissues causes the darkening of the skin. This explains the situation where people with varicose veins have dark spots on their legs, especially behind their knees.
7. Hardening of Body Skin
Continued inflammation of body parts due to the excess blood flowing on the surrounding tissues, the skin becomes tender followed by a drastic firm and large skin surface. This results because the skin is not receiving enough oxygen and food nutrients, which makes some of the cells below the skin to start dying. Ultimately, the skin will harden and may begin cracking as the number of the cells making it are mostly dead.
8. Difficulty Movement
Increasing pain, tenderness, and hard skins may cause an individual to experience pain when trying to walk around. It reaches to the point that any movement or relaxation of the leg tissues causes rupturing of small blood capillaries carrying large volumes of blood or cracking of the dead skin. Ultimately, an individual may find it difficult to walk or perform any physical activity. It should be noted that this is an extreme situation of varicose veins.
Preventive and Treatment Methods
There are some measures that individuals can adopt and apply in an attempt to prevent them from getting varicose veins. Although there is no ultimate vein problem prevention mechanism, it is worth highlighting that allowing sufficient and uninterrupted blood flow in your legs could play a vital role in preventing the disorder. Some of the prevention measures include;
This reduces the excess weight in the body of an individual hence decreasing the amount of pressure that the legs have to handle. It is similar to reducing the weight of an individual. Moreover, individuals are encouraged to watch their cholesterol levels as the accumulation of excess fats on veins could cause backflow of blood leading to varicose veins in specialized organs in the body.
Lifting Your Legs
People are encouraged, as they exercise, to elevate their legs, so that they can allow free flow of blood from their legs to the heart and the lungs with ease. It has been noted that the primary causes of varicose veins are the slow movement of blood, against gravity, to the lungs and heart, which are located on the upper parts of the body. Moreover, changing your sitting position or standing may facilitate the free flow of your blood from feet to the lungs.
Consuming Low-Salt Diet
Excessive consumption of salt may lead to a situation where the walls of the blood vessels became weak. Blood moving at high pressure may expand such walls causing the vessel to carry large volumes of blood. The valves designed to prevent backflow of blood might not have enough strength to prevent such situation which may lead to varicose veins and ultimately blood clotting. Therefore, one should focus on eating high-fiber and low salt diet.
Avoid High Heels and Tight Clothes
Tight clothes have been known to press the skin so hard that it is difficult for blood to flow, especially flowing back to the heart because it does not have enough pressure. If the blood is prevented from flowing back, it may stagnate at one point leading to clotting, which increases the chances of varicose veins. High heels are also not recommended because they cause one to apply much pressure on his or her legs. Individuals should avoid such attire as they increase the risk of getting varicose veins.
Compression socks are a particular type of an attire that is recommended by medical specialists to people with a risk of getting varicose veins. The socks are designed such that it applies controlled pressure to the leg allowing free flow of blood from the legs to the heart. Using compression socks has become so popular due to the active nature of the method. These types of stocking have also been known to reduce swelling of legs that is mostly caused by varicose veins. People with the risk of getting varicose veins have been recommended to buy compression stockings at various stores or other places such as medical and equipment supply warehouses.
In situations where changes in lifestyle are not affecting your varicose veins, individuals experiencing extreme symptoms or those that have been rendered inactive by the disorder, it is advisable that one goes a surgical procedure. The doctor uses anesthesia to cut your skin and remove the varicose vein from your leg. Vein-stripping is a standard surgical procedure that is recommended in case of extreme varicose veins. Varicose vein treatment procedures has been updated over-time, and there are also minimally invasive treatments available.
Best Method of Treatment
Treatment and prevention of varicose veins may depend or vary from one person to another depending on various factors such as age, overall health, and symptoms among others. Although the methods highlighted above offer the some of the best treatment and preventive techniques, getting advice from a specialist to determine the best option is highly recommended. Lastly, it is worth highlighting that endovenous therapies help in preventing severe complications in varicose veins.
You should not ignore your varicose veins as they develop with time. It might seem a small problem at the beginning, but it could grow to be a dangerous situation in your life. Using lifestyle changes might not work for you at later stages. Therefore, it is essential to consult a specialist, especially when symptoms become life-threatening. He or she might suggest a robust approach, such as surgery.
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