WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS?
Varicose veins occur mainly in the legs and may be disfiguring – they are usually hard, lump and blue because the walls of the veins become enlarged or twisted. They may also cause various symptoms such as aching, heaviness, skin damage, ulcers and swollen ankles. As these can also be symptoms of other medical conditions, you should discuss them with your doctor.
Women and men are equally susceptible to varicose veins. It is a condition that tends to run in families, which implies an inherited weakness in the blood vessels. They also seem to be more common in people whose job involves standing for longs periods of time. Varicose veins can occur during pregnancy, and they’re also found in people who are overweight or obese.
WHICH VEINS ARE AFFECTED?
The veins most likely to have problems are those closer to the skin – known as the superficial veins. In particular, the long saphenous vein, which runs up the inside of the leg from the ankle to the groin, and the short saphenous vein, which is visible on the outside of the leg from the ankle to around knee level are commonly involved.
SHOULD THEY BE TREATED?
Most people want their varicose veins dealt with for cosmetic reasons, but some seek help when skin changes occur – commonly eczema or skin darkening/discoloration, which may eventually result in ulcers. If you experience bleeding from varicose veins, which is relatively unusual, this is a sign that they need to be treated, as is a sudden feeling of heaviness in the legs and swelling. See your doctor if any of these occur.
RELIEVING AND TREATING VARICOSE VEINS
Here’s how to ease the effects of varicose veins:
*Take Short Walks – Just get up and walk around whenever possible – repeatedly lifting your heels off the ground. This activates the ‘muscle pump’, which helps to keep blood moving and prevents the formation of clots. Exercise that stimulates blood circulation is beneficial for everyone at any age.
*Keep Weight Down – Excessive weight is though to be a contributory factor in varicose veins. They may be less problematic if you keep your weight within the normal range for your height.
*Put Your Feet Up – You can relieve heaviness and aching by raising your legs so that they are supported level with or above the rest of your body. Just keep in mind that sitting immobile in a chair for long periods of time will make symptoms worse.
*Wear Support Stockings – Avoid the over-the-counter stockings; ask your doctor to prescribe the correct level of compression and get them from a medical supply store. Support stockings compress veins, discourage clots and ease discomfort. However, it is not advisable to wear them at night.