What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, weakened, dilated veins that no longer carry blood from the legs back up to the heart in an effective manner against gravity. This is secondary to the failure of the valve system (valvular incompetence) in the veins, which normally would allow blood to only flow back to the heart. Now the blood and pressure (venous hypertension) builds up from the effect of gravity. Varicose veins commonly cause many symptoms in the legs including tiredness, fatigue, heaviness, aching, throbbing, itching, burning, and swelling. These symptoms are typically worse at the end of the day but get better with rest or elevation of the legs. Effective treatment of these diseased veins usually eliminates the symptoms. If left untreated, however, varicose veins always worsen over time and may lead to significant complications, such as clot, skin inflammation and even venous ulceration in later stages of disease. It is important not to ignore the presence of varicose veins and symptoms of venous hypertension in order to prevent the long term complications of the disease.
What causes Varicose Veins?
Several factors contribute to the development of varicose veins. The most important but unalterable factor is genetics. A genetic tendency causes veins to weaken and wear out over time. The greater this genetic tendency, the sooner it will happen. Other contributing factors include pregnancy, obesity, estrogen/progesterone containing medications, and previous blood clots. In most cases, nothing can be done to prevent the development of the condition, but if effective treatment is given early in the course of the disease, complications like phlebitis, blood clots and ulcerations can be prevented and symptoms relieved.