Varicose Veins

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By Dr. Sudhir Pudi , Radiology

Varicose veins are those veins which become enlarged, widened owing to overflow of blood. Varicose veins generally happen in legs and feet and the veins generally turn red or bluish in color.

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins are generally caused by:

  1. Weakened Valves: There are tiny valves in your veins which regulate the flow of blood. When the valves get weakened, it gets enlarged resulting in leakage and backward flow of blood. This causes the veins to swell and widen.
  2. Gender: Research suggests that women are more prone to varicose veins than men. Certain hormones in women tend to make the valves weak and loose which leads to leakage of blood.
  3. Genetics: It is said that varicose veins are hereditary. If your family member has this, you are at risk of having varicose veins.
  4. Age: Age can also cause varicose vein. With age, our veins lose its elasticity causing the valves to work improperly.
  5. Overweight: Being overweight can generate extra pressure on the veins which in turn may cause leakage.
  6. Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the amount of blood flows increases, putting extra strain on the veins.

Less commonly, varicose veins are caused by such diseases as:

  • phlebitis (inflammation of the veins),
  • blood clots or any obstruction to blood flow in the veins, or
  • congenital abnormalities of the veins.

Venous disease (disease of the veins) is generally progressive and may not be prevented entirely. However, in some cases, wearing support hosiery, maintaining a normal weight, and regular exercise may be beneficial.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins-

Some of the common signs of varicose veins are:

  1. Veins appear to be red or bluish in color.
  2. Veins become visible and enlarged.
  3. You may feel severe pain and heaviness in your leg.
  4. Veins may start bleeding.
  5. A sensation of burn and cramps around the veins.
  6. Ankles and feet may start swelling.

How can you diagnose varicose vein?

  1. Your doctor may physically examine your leg to look for any bluish enlarged nerve. He may ask you about pain or heaviness in your leg.
  2. The doctor may carry out an ultrasound to check your blood flow.
  3. An angiogram may also be used to have a better image of your veins.

What are the treatments for varicose veins?

  1. Your doctor may advise you to change your lifestyle to treat varicose veins. Some of the common lifestyles changes that you can make are:
    1. Do not stand for a long time.
    2. Maintain a healthy weight.
    3. Do exercise to strengthen your legs.
    4. Refrain from keeping your legs for a longer period of time.
  2. Your doctor may prescribe you to wear compression stockings to regulate the flow of blood.
  3. Surgery is required if the above procedures are rendered ineffective.