Varicose veins

Varicose veins are veins that exist under the skin of legs which over the course of time widen, bulge out and get twisted. Most commonly, varicose veins is caused by weakened valves and veins in your legs. Generally, one-way valves in your veins keep blood flowing from your legs up toward your heart. When these valves do not work as they should, excess pressure leads to widening of the veins as they do not close accurately. Blood then flows back into the leg along these veins causing varicose veins to develop. Raised pressure in these veins also encourages the development of spider veins and discoloured areas which look like bruises to the normal eye.

Symptoms of having Varicose Veins:

Varicose Veins may or may not cause pain. In India each year, more than 10 million cases of varicose veins. Some might lead to serious problems but most cases, the patient seems to feel no pain or joint pain. However, they are various ways in which one can find out whether they have varicose veins. They are:

  • Veins turn dark purple or blue in color
  • Veins appear to be twisted and bulging; often like cords on your legs
  • When you feet feel weak and standing seems to be a task sometimes.
  • An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
  • Burning and muscle cramping in your legs
  • Significant amount of pain after sitting or standing for a long time
  • Color changes, hardening of the vein, inflammation of the skin or skin ulcers near your ankle, which can mean the possibility of a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention
  • In rare cases, even bleeding, from varicose veins.
  • Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they’re smaller. Spider veins are found closer to the skin’s surface, not under, and often appear to be in red or blue colours.

Factors Contributing to Varicose Veins:

Age – The risk of varicose veins increases with age. Aging causes  tear on the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow. Eventually, that wear causes the valves to allow some blood to flow back into your veins where it collects instead of flowing up to your heart leading to varicose veins.

Sex – Women are more likely to develop the condition. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, pre menstruation or menopause may be a factor because female hormones tend to relax vein walls. Taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills may increase your risk of varicose veins.

Obesity. Being overweight puts added pressure on your veins. It makes your legs go through immense pressure while walking around which could lead to varicose veins.

Genetics — Genetics play a major role in having varicose veins. Many people recognize the issue as their ancestors must have had it but there are high chances of you having it too. Research has found that if both of your parents have vein problems, there is 90% chance you will as well. If one parent has them, women have a 62% chance and men have a 25% chance. Some studies suggest the chances drop to 20% if neither parent has varicose veins.

Pregnancy — Mothers are often left with an array of physical reminders of bringing their baby into the world, including varicose veins. In fact vein problems are the same age as their oldest child. The leg veins work by carrying blood upward, against gravity. The increased abdominal and pelvic pressure the baby brings makes the job harder, ultimately causing the veins to weaken and fail. Hormonal changes during pregnancy play an even larger role. The hormone progesterone weakens the vein walls and allows them to bulge more easily. Increased blood volume during pregnancy further escalates the occurrence leading to varicose veins.

Occupation & Lifestyle — As mentioned, veins have to work against gravity. The longer you’re on your feet, the harder your veins have to work. Your extracurricular activities play a major role. Anything from bodybuilding with heavy weights to paddle boarding could increase vein pressure and time standing.

Prior Surgery or Trauma — The fight against gravity is won by valves inside the veins, which act as one-way doors allowing blood to flow up toward our heart but not back down toward our feet. Problem only arises when these valves are disrupted. Veins and valves can be damaged or cut during leg surgery. Even a swift hit to the thigh with a ball can be enough to allow the backflow of blood. Our veins and valves can’t rejuvenate, hence varicose veins start to develop.