Varicose veins are a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. They are caused by malfunctioning valves in the veins, which can lead to blood pooling in the legs and the appearance of twisted, bulging veins. Aside from the pain symptoms, aesthetically speaking, one may also be bothered with its appearance. In this article, let’s find out the ways to reduce the risk of having these varicosities and how to treat it.
Signs and Symptoms
- aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs
- swollen feet and ankles
- burning or throbbing in your legs
- muscle cramp or fatigue in your legs, particularly at night
- dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected vein
- Large, bulging veins especially on the legs
- Age. It’s a wear and tear on the valves in the veins that affects the control of blood flow.
- Sex. Women are more likely to develop varicose veins. There are female hormones which cause the muscles that control the movement of blood in your veins to relax.
- Pregnancy. During pregnancy, the blood volume in the body increases. There is also expected weight gain and hormonal changes which could also increase the susceptibility to varicose veins.
- Obesity. Increased body mass related to obesity means your vessels must work harder to deliver, distribute, and return blood to your heart. This can eventually lead to the damage of your veins.
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time. This can increase the pooling of blood in the leg veins while increasing the pressure within the veins. The veins can stretch from the increased pressure that may weaken the walls and damage the valves.
Ways to manage and prevent varicose veins
- Lifestyle changes: Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding prolonged standing or sitting can help prevent varicose veins from developing or worsening. Walking, cycling, and swimming are all great forms of exercise for preventing varicose veins.
- Compression stockings: Wearing compression stockings can help improve blood flow in the legs and reduce the appearance of varicose veins. These stockings compress the legs, helping to keep the blood from pooling in the veins.
- Elevate your legs: Elevating your legs when sitting or lying down can help reduce the pressure on your veins and improve blood flow.
- Avoiding tight clothing and high heels: Wearing tight clothing or high heels can restrict blood flow in the legs and may contribute to the development of varicose veins.
- Healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in saturated fats can help maintain a normal weight and reduce the risk of varicose veins.
- Monitoring: Regularly monitoring your varicose veins to detect any changes, and consulting with a doctor if any symptoms worsen.
- Medical treatment: If lifestyle changes and compression stockings are not enough to alleviate symptoms, medical treatments such as sclerotherapy, endovenous ablation, and surgery may be necessary.
It’s important to note that not all patients with varicose veins will develop complications, but early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent them from developing or worsening. Untreated varicose veins can lead to a number of serious complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), chronic venous insufficiency, skin thickening and discoloration, and open sores (ulcers) on the skin.If you’re concerned about varicose veins and want to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available, please consult with a doctor or a specialist in venous diseases.
About The Author
Dr. Verns is a highly-skilled and compassionate physician who obtained her medical degree from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila College of Medicine in 2014, and passed the Physician Licensure Exam in August of 2015. She is a certified Family Physician given by the Philippine Association of Family Physicians, and received her Diplomate in Family Medicine in 2022 and landed as top 6 in overall rankings in the Philippines. She is also a registered nurse both in the Philippines and the United States, having passed the US Nursing Licensure Exam in 2007.
Dr. Verns is a strong advocate of preventive care and believes that it makes a huge difference in the outcome of disease development. In the future, she is looking to further her education and training to become a diabetologist or lifestyle medicine fellow.