Over 30 million Americans suffer from venous disease, specifically varicose veins, and many didn’t know they were at risk or recognize the signs and symptoms as they occurred. Have you ever wondered if you have or are at risk of getting varicose veins? The following information will help you understand their cause, signs, and symptoms.
Because varicose veins come on gradually and sometimes painlessly, they often go unnoticed. The telltale signs that most people are familiar with are dark purple or blue veins that appear twisted and bulging on legs. While they don’t always cause pain, additional signs and symptoms that you may be suffering from venous disease include aching, throbbing, stinging and burning as well as swelling, cramping, leg fatigue, itching, and restless leg.
Varicose veins most commonly occur in the legs and feet, but any vein can become varicose. Healthy veins have valves that are spaced at intervals and work to keep blood flowing toward the heart. The muscles of the calves act as a heart for the venous flow in your legs: when your calf muscles contract, the blood in your veins is propelled upward and the valves prevent blood from flowing back toward your feet when your calf muscles are at rest. Varicose veins occur as a result of the weakening or deterioration of the blood valves, which results in blood flowing towards the feet and pooling in the veins.
Varicose veins occur 3 to 4 times more frequently in women than in men due to hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Female hormones —especially progesterone—cause the valve tissue to soften and give way, and the vein walls to dilate. Taking estrogen or progesterone supplements and using birth control pills may increase a woman’s risk for varicose veins.
Individuals with a family history of vein disease are at high risk of developing the condition. While you cannot change your genetics, you can take measures to slow the onset and progression of the condition. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding standing for long periods can be beneficial to vein health and the use of compression stocking assists the legs in pumping blood back up to the heart while minimizing symptoms. It’s important to note, that while compression stockings alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of vein disease, they will not make varicose veins disappear.
If you think you may be suffering from venous disease or are at risk of or have started developing varicose veins, call us today to find out more about how we both identify and treat venous disease.