What are Varicose Veins
Varicose veins most commonly affect the legs and feet. The condition is caused by a congestion in the veins. Veins contain valves to prevent the blood from flowing back downward from gravity. However, when these valves weaken, the blood starts to pool in the veins. Veins then start to widen and swell and are called varicose. This may occur to any vein, but those most commonly affected are in the legs and feet. They appear as enlarged veins, often having a snake like appearance and can be blue in color.
Spider veins are similar. However, they are usually smaller and more bluish in color and appear closer to the surface of the skin. Like varicose veins, they occur mostly in the legs. The appearance of spider veins is similar to a spider's web which is where the name gets its origin.
For many people varicose and spider veins do not cause pain and are of cosmetic concern only. However, others experience moderate to severe pain, throbbing, achiness, heaviness, itching and burning from the condition. Long periods of sitting or standing often increase these symptoms.
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Prevalence of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins or chronic venous disease is one of the most common conditions that affect people across racial lines. About 50% of the United States population has venous disease. Among women the prevalence of visible varicose veins is approximately 20 to 25% and among men it is about 10 to 15%. Varicose veins afflict 50% of people over 50 years of age and between 15 to 25% of all adults. Approximately 1% of people aged 60 and above have chronic wounds as a result of varicose veins known as ulcers.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Symptoms of varicose veins include pain in the legs, fatigue that is focused in the legs, as well as leg heaviness. People with varicose vein problems desire to sit down and prop their legs up in order to relieve the symptoms. The veins get enlarged and assume a snake-like appearance. When the varicose veins are smaller, they have the appearance of a spider web from where they derive the name spider veins. When the condition becomes severe the veins can rapture and cause ulcers. This stage is difficult to treat.
Risk Factors - What Causes Varicose Veins
Some of the risk factors for varicose veins include advanced age, genetic predisposition or family history, gender (females are more susceptible to varicose veins than males), and pregnancy.
How to Prevent Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can be prevented by wearing compression stockings which help improve circulation. Avoiding standing or sitting for protracted periods of time is another preventive measure and so is weight loss and weight control. Elevating the legs regularly can prevent the blood from pooling in the lower legs and improves circulation as well.
Varicose Veins Treatment
Sometimes, people with varicose veins experience moderate to severe pain such as throbbing, achiness, heaviness, itching and burning. Traditional treatment for the condition includes a minimally invasive procedure which utilizes an imaging guidance in which radiofrequency energy is applied to the vein to heat it up and close it. Such procedures are not cheap unless one has health insurance.
Home remedies have been recommended by various individuals. But there is no guarantee from healthcare professionals about their efficacy or long-term effects. One applies them at one’s own risk.
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