What are varicose veins?
Blood is pumped through our bodies and transports through veins and capillaries. Inside your veins, you will have valves that ensure that blood travels in the right direction and does not go back to where it came from. It works like a one-way street on a road; it only allows the flow of blood in one direction.
In many cases, the valves may become impaired, which leads to an increase in pressure in your veins. This could lead to high blood pressure in the veins, which leads to them becoming compressed or widened. This is what we call varicose veins.
Finding the right treatment for varicose veins is important to ensure that the condition doesn’t worsen. Although it doesn’t cause a serious risk to your health, it can lead to spider web looking veins on the skin's surface. If you do continue to ignore this condition, it may affect the overall blood flow and circulation negatively and leads to discomfort or swelling. Here's how you can improve your blood circulation.
Symptoms of Varicose veins
The visible signs are very apparent; as your veins will appear on the surface of your skin as enlarge blue veins. There are also 3 physical symptoms to look out for.
- Feet and calves swelling
- A tingling sensation in your legs
- Itching feeling and in rare cases, ulcers
7 Causes of Varicose veins
Weak valves and vein walls are the most common causes of varicose veins. Other causes of varicose veins include:
Gender - Women are more prone to varicose veins than males as their hormones relax the veins in the legs that lead to leaking from the valves. Women also tend to wear uncomfortable heels that cause strain in the legs. Menopause, pregnancy and weight gain due to this,along with hormonal changes, can aggravate varicose veins.
Family history - If someone in the family is already experiencing the condition or has had a history of varicose veins, you can be at a risk too as it is a condition that can be caused by genetics.
Age - Ageing is one of the biggest contributors, as veins lose elasticity with age and valves stop working, affecting blood flow causing enlarged veins. As we get older our body functions begin to slow down, as they too get old. The valves or flaps in your veins can malfunction as shown in the image above. When they do this, it will lead to varicose veins.
Weight - Being overweight can put pressure on your veins and valves which results in leaking. The added pressure also constricts the blood flow back to the heart thereby leading to a collection of blood in the valves that can develop varicose veins.
Posture - Standing for long hours at a stretch can add to a lot of pressure on the valves and veins. The blood flow is also restricted due to the posture for a longer period of time. Hence, those in occupations involving constant standing can be affected by varicose veins.
Pregnancy - A lot of women complain of varicose veins during pregnancy as the womb adds pressure on the knees and legs, causing a strain on the veins and valves. The hormonal changes also cause the valves to relax thereby causing leakage and can lead to varicose veins. This often disappears after child birth if the condition is controlled or managed with the right products.
Other factors - A previous blood clot, abnormal veins that do not promote smooth blood flow or a swelling in the pelvic region may also be a cause of varicose veins.
Stages of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins develop in the following stages:
- Spider veins - This is the initial stage of varicose where feather-like tiny veins start showing from the skin. These are usually painless and if treated in time can prevent further complications.
- Reticular Varicose veins - Varicose veins are usually red in colour but when you see blue and purplish coloured veins appearing in the leg, the condition can be termed as reticular varicose veins.
- Varicose veins trunk - When the valves in the trunk (torso) region start leaking, varicose veins appear in that area. About 40% men experience this condition while only 2% women suffer from it.
- Chronic venous insufficiency - It is an advanced stage of vein illness where the veins and valves become less efficient and hence a pool of blood starts forming in the larger veins causing blockage and pain.
- Trophic Ulcers - When varicose veins or other vein problems are left untreated, it leads to trophic ulcers. The tissues are destroyed in this case and it requires severe treatment for healing.
Diagnosis of Varicose veins
In most cases, varicose veins do not cause discomfort or pain and hence over-the-counter medication works. However, if you experience severe discomfort, pain and aches that disturb your night’s sleep, you will need to see a GP.
How to get rid of varicose veins?
There are various options available for people who wish to get rid of varicose veins. Sclerotherapy is a procedure that uses a highly concentrated saline solution, which is injected into the vein to make it disappear gradually over three to six weeks. However, this procedure is only advised for severe cases. Other options include:
- Ointments and supplements to stimulate circulation
- Compression socks
- Physical therapy to help ease swelling
- Laser therapy
Topical treatments are more popular among people who want to get rid of Varicose veins as the naturally-occurring and soothing ingredients present in these can help repair vein and capillary damage. Along with this, it also soothes calms, moisturises and nourishes the skin.
Some of these topical treatments come with a pack of supplements that help relieve and reduce the appearance of varicose veins internally. These pills can support blood flow to relieve the pain and capillary damage to help you get rid of varicose veins. Like creams, pills are also made of natural ingredients such as horse chestnut, pink bark extract and bioperine. Using these topical treatments alone cannot help relieve pain or discomfort of this condition. Weight loss, walking regularly and indulging in light physical activities is advised to get rid of varicose veins.
How to prevent varicose veins?
As we have now discussed what causes varicose veins and what can help get rid of varicose veins, why not try these simple steps to help you avoid getting them in the first place.
The Final Word
This skin condition can affect both men and women, however, it is more likely to strike as you get older. Finding the right solution to get rid of varicose veins can be hard or even embarrassing, to begin with. Help yourself by exercising regularly and enjoying a balanced diet. Natural creams, lotions, and pills available are designed to match the needs of the condition and help you get rid of varicose veins gradually.