Non-Communicable Diseases
Varicose Veins

​Overview: 

  • Varicose veins are common and must be treated immediately to prevent the condition from worsening. 
  • Varicose veins typically appear swollen and raised, and have a bluish-purple or red color. 
  • Regular exercise and taking breaks after standing for long periods are the best ways to prevent varicose veins.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, bulging, or enlarged blood vessels which usually appear on the legs and feet. They may also occur in other areas in the body. Varicose veins may be blue or dark purple. They may be lumpy, swollen, or have an unsightly appearance. It is also one of the most common peripheral vascular diseases in the world. 

Types:
  1. Trunk varicose veins: These are close to the surface of the skin and are thick and knobbly. They're often long and swollen.
  2. Reticular varicose veins: These are red and sometimes grouped close together in a network.
  3. Telangiectasia varicose veins (also known as thread veins or spider veins): These are small clusters of blue or red veins that sometimes appear on your legs.
Other names: 
Spider veins, varicosities

Causes: 
Swollen and enlarged veins occur when the small valves inside the veins do not function properly. The reason for this is unclear.

Risk factors:
  1. Gender: varicose veins are more common in women than men.
  2. Family history
  3. Age
  4. Being overweight
  5. Prolonged standing
  6. Pregnancy
  7. Occurrence of thrombosis in superficial or deep veins
  8. Lack of physical activity.
Symptoms: 
  1. Leg pain
  2. Discomfort while walking
  3. Swollen feet and ankles
  4. Burning sensation in legs
  5. Dryness and itching
  6. Thinning of the skin over the affected veins
  7. Symptoms can get worse in warm weather or with standing for long periods of time. It improves and lessens with light walking or sitting with elevated legs.
When to see a doctor?
You should see your doctor when you feel pain or discomfort, especially at night and during sleep. 
Complications  
  1. Enlarged swollen legs
  2. Skin color change
  3. Hardening of tissues under the skin, and the occurrence of eczema
  4. Chronic skin ulceration
  5. Blood clots (superficial phlebitis or thrombophlebitis) developing from large varicose veins
  6. The veins too close to the skin may burst, causing bleeding.
Diagnosis:
Varicose veins are diagnosed by examining the legs while standing to check for signs of swelling. If varicose veins don't cause discomfort, seeing a doctor might be unnecessary.

Treatment: 
Varicose veins are rarely a serious condition, and they usually don't require treatment. Your doctor may initially recommend the use of compression stockings, regular exercise, and elevating the affected area when sitting down. If the pain continues, other treatment options may be considered. They include: 
  1. Venous ablation to close varicose veins: Laser beams or radio frequency energy is used to warm up and close the inner part of a vein.
  2. Intravenous injection: Chemical foam is used to inject and close the affected veins.
  3. Surgery: Affected veins are removed or surgically tied.
Prevention:
There is no guaranteed way to prevent varicose veins, but there are ways to relieve their symptoms, such as:
  1. Avoiding standing or sitting for long periods. People with occupations that require long periods of standing should take frequent breaks to sit.
  2. Avoiding sitting for too long. Moving around every 30 minutes helps;
  3. Taking regular breaks throughout the day, and elevating legs on a pillows while resting;
  4. Avoiding sitting cross-legged; 
  5. Exercising regularly to improve blood circulation and maintain a healthy weight;
  6. Maintaining an ideal healthy weight;
  7. Wearing compression stockings. 
FAQ: 
  • Is varicose vein treatment effective? 
Yes, it is advised to start varicose veins treatment immediately when symptoms appear to avoid them worsening over time. If varicose veins are already widespread and swollen, medical intervention may be required. After treatment, varicose veins do not recur; however, they may affect other veins. Therefore, prevention is recommended after treatment.
  • Are varicose veins fatal? 
Varicose veins are not dangerous; however, it is a condition that must be treated, not neglected. A person with varicose veins must adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent deterioration.

Myths & Truths:
  • Varicose veins affect women not men.
Truth: Both men and women can get varicose veins; however, they can be more common among women than men. 
  • Exercise can increase the risk of developing varicose veins.
Truth: Exercising pushes the heart to pump more blood, thus improving blood circulation, and preventing varicose veins. 


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Last Update : 07 December 2020 10:33 AM
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