Do you have unattractive, painful varicose veins on your legs? If so, you may want to learn a little more about them. Some patients aim to understand what causes varicose veins or whether they are dangerous. Others want to know if they can prevent their veins from not working right in the first place. Not surprisingly, almost everyone with varicose veins wonders how to make them go away.
Whether you already have varicose veins or are at risk, it’s great that you’ve taken the first steps to prioritize your vein health. Below, you can discover five essential facts about varicose veins, their underlying causes, and what kind of treatments can help.
1. They are more than just a cosmetic issue.
Although nobody particularly likes the sight of bulging, twisted leg veins, you probably have bigger issues to be concerned about. To start with, varicose veins can cause significant pain or discomfort in the legs, ankles, and feet. For some people, this can be severe enough to impact their overall quality of life.
If you have varicose veins, you may suffer from the following common symptoms:
- Heavy legs
- Pain relief when legs are elevated
- Itching or burning sensations
2. Varicose veins are a sign of underlying vein disease.
Although you may be tempted to ignore them, varicose veins are a sign of vein disease, or venous insufficiency. It’s a common health condition that affects millions of men and women in the United States each year.
Varicose veins can appear when your vein valves become damaged due to underlying vein disease. In many cases, malfunctioning veins can no longer effectively pump blood back from the lower extremities to the heart. When this occurs, blood instead begins to pool in the legs, ankles, and feet. This can cause varicose veins, spider veins, and a range of other issues.
3. Vein disease can lead to serious health conditions.
Although varicose veins are not always considered dangerous, vein disease can lead to blood clots and venous ulcers.
The type of blood clot that typically develops in people with varicose veins is called Superficial Thrombophlebitis (ST). ST symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling. However, you may also be at increased risk for developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT symptoms are similar to those of ST. They include swelling, warmth in the affected area, redness, and pain or tenderness in the lower body.
If you believe you are experiencing a blood clot, please contact your doctor immediately or seek urgent care for evaluation as DVT is a potentially life-threatening condition.
Another potential effect of varicose veins involves the development of venous ulcers. These non-healing, open wounds are a sign of advanced vein disease. Venous ulcers put you at risk for infection and require medical attention.
4. You may not be able to prevent varicose veins.
Although certain risk factors may be within your control, the reality is that you probably can’t entirely prevent varicose veins. For one thing, varicose veins are strongly hereditary. If you have a family medical history of vein disease, you are more likely to develop them. This unfortunate trait can be passed down from either parent. If both of your parents have varicose veins, your risk is further increased.
Your age and sex also play a role. In general, the risk of developing varicose veins increases with age for both men and women. However, women are much likelier to develop varicose and spider veins. Pregnancy may be one of the reasons behind this divide, since it is common to develop vein symptoms while expecting. This probably occurs due to a combination of increased blood flow and an influx of pregnancy hormones.
Risk factors within your control include:
- High blood pressure
- Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
If you believe you are at risk for developing varicose veins, here’s what you can do to help prevent them:
- Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI)
- Medically manage your high blood pressure and diabetes
- Exercise regularly
- Move around throughout the day
- Stretch and massage your legs, ankles, and feet
- Ask your doctor about wearing compression socks
- Visit a vein specialist for close monitoring
5. Varicose veins don’t just go away on their own.
Although lifestyle modifications may help keep symptoms from getting worse, the reality is that your varicose veins won’t just disappear.
Fortunately, there’s good news on this front. A variety of effective, minimally-invasive, non-surgical vein treatments exist. Many are widely available and even affordable, since vein treatment is usually covered by health insurance. Most treatments are performed in an outpatient setting and take only 15 to 30 minutes. Afterward, you can return immediately to most normal activities.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re suffering from varicose veins, make an appointment with a vein treatment specialist to find out for sure. There is no need to live with uncomfortable, painful, or unsightly veins any longer.
Sponsored by USA Vein Clinics