What is it ?
Varicose veins are superficial veins in which the blood flows backwards through the circulatory system : this is called a venous reflux or incontinence.
Theses veins look bluish, dilated and distorted, an can be more or less protruding. In 95% of cases, varicosities affect superficial leg veins : the short and great saphenous veins.
Causes of varicose veins
People who have varicose veins suffer from chronic venous insufficiency : their venous system struggles in making the blood return to the heart.
The causes are :
- Weakness of valves that are supposed to make the blood flow one-way non-return
- Deterioration of veins walls
- Legs’ small muscular tone
First signs of varicose veins
- Pains, tingling, and feeling of heaviness in the legs
- Calf cramps and swollen ankles and feet
- Varicosities : very small veins looking like spider webs on the skin
- Bluish, dilated and distorted veins, mostly all along the legs
Varicose veins can lead to more or less serious complications :
- Brownish skin
- Eczema on the lower legs
- Very painful ulcers on the skin
- Blood clot (thrombosis) in a superficial vein
- Extension of the thrombosis to a deep vein (phlebitis)
A phlebitis is a serious complication.
Favoring and aggravating factors for varicose veins
- Family health history (varicose vein is the most frequent genetical illness)
- Multiple pregnancies
- Working in a standing position
- Sitting still for long periods
- Frequent exposition to heat (sunbathing, very warm baths, saunas, steam rooms, etc...)
Prevent the aggravation of varicose veins
- Elevating the legs as often as possible, move feet and ankles
- Move and frequently vary the posture (especially during trips)
- Physical exercise on a frequent and regular basis (walking, swimming, biking...)
- Apply cold water on the legs at bedtime, especially by high heat or in floor-heated homes
- Avoid sources of heat
- Avoid tight clothes
- Wear low-heeled shoes
- Wear special compression stockings
- Reduce consumption of salt to prevent water retention
Eat fiber-rich food to prevent constipation
The treatment of varicose veins
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