Varicose Veins: Diagnosis, Symptoms & Treatment
Varicose veins or varicosities are enlarged veins that can occur anywhere in the body.
However, this is more common and is more visible in the lower extremities. Varicose veins appear snake-like that traverse the entirety of the leg or a small portion of it.
It is a vascular disease in which the valves of the veins deteriorate causing unoxygenated blood to pool below the affected part of the vein.
Remember that veins are blood vessels that bring back unaerated heart from the various elements of the body back to the heart.
Because the heart is above the lower half of the body, this means that the veins must have some intrinsic mechanism of bringing back the blood to the heart against gravity.
Unlike arteries, veins have one way valves that only allow blood to flow upward towards the heart. When gravity pulls the blood down, the valves close preventing back flow of blood.
That is why destruction of these valves cause pooling of blood especially in the legs. Accumulation of blood expands the veins causing them to bulge out of the skin causing unsightly varicosities.
Who Can Get Varicose Veins?
Female adults are the ones who usually develop varicose veins. It becomes more common in women as they age and usually has a familial predisposition. However, men may also develop varicosities but is usually not as noticeable because the varicosities are masked by their muscle mass.
Those who work for prolonged periods while standing are also prone to developing varicosities. People who need to work while standing for long periods of time like doctors, nurses and sales clerks are all prone to developing varicosities.
Pregnant women are also at risk for developing this because of the increased blood volume during pregnancy.
Increased blood volume causes the veins to expand which can destroy the patency of the vessels. Varicose veins acquired during pregnancy usually do not regress completely but they may lessen after delivery of the fetus.
What Are The Symptoms?
The most common complaint among women is aesthetic. Mild cases do not usually have symptoms except that they do not like the unsightly veins on their legs. Moderate to severe cases will present with leg pain and leg heaviness which usually subsides with leg elevation.
Some cases also present with itchiness, redness and skin dryness which is due to the reduced blood supply reaching that area.
How Is It Diagnosed?
It’s will sometimes be diagnosed simply by asking the history and acting a physical examination.
How Is It Treated?
There is no cure for the destroyed valves in varicose veins. However, there are procedures that can remove varicose veins. An old procedure involves the varicose veins being stripped off surgically but there are certain complications with this procedure including deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.
Another option would be sclerotherapy in which veins are shrunk with the help of intravenous medications. Another popular procedure is Endovenous Laser Ablation which makes use of a laser to ligate varicose veins.
How Can It Be Prevented?
Varicose veins can be prevented minimizing physical inactivity. Staying too long in one position can facilitate pooling of blood in the lower extremity which can lead to varicosities. Physical exercise or even regular walks can stimulate good blood flow.
If standing or sitting too long is required for work, the use of compression stockings is recommended.
These special stockings compress the legs to prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities. It can also be prevented by elevating the leg once in awhile.