FACTS ON VARICOSE VEINS

VARICOSE VEINS

Have you ever heard of Chronic Venous Disorders (CVDs)? ….Chronic Venous Disorders refer to a wide range of venous disease entities, including mild conditions such as varicose veins and telangiectasia and more severe presentations such as edema and venous ulceration. 

This article is specifically going to focus on the mild conditions i.e varicose veins, since they are extremely very evident in our livelihoods and therefore a clear sensitization is highly in demand. In this article, our lifestyle and daily activities play a very vital role in determining the capability of one getting varicose veins or not getting.

Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen, and twisting veins, often appearing blue or dark purple. They happen when faulty valves in the veins allow blood to flow in the wrong direction or to pool. More than 23 percent of all adults are thought to be affected by varicose veins.

Varicose veins should be thought of as one clinical manifestation of venous hypertension. This, when chronic, causes a sequence of cutaneous complications: edema, cutaneous pigmentation, venous/stasis dermatitis, atrophie Blanche, cutaneous ulceration and malignant degeneration. Varicose veins alone may also be complicated by hemorrhage, thrombophlebitis and pain. 

SYMPTOMS

  • Prominent dark blue veins especially in the legs and feet.
  • Swelling in the legs with veins that appear twisted and bulging; they are often like cords on your legs.

  • An achy or heavy feeling in your legs, sometimes with swelling, but without any prominent or visible blue veins, may signal a deep varicose.
  • Burning sensations, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
  • Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time. Numbness in the legs.
  •  Itching around some of your veins.
  • Skin discoloration around a varicose vein.

CAUSES OF VARICOSE VEINS

  • HEREDITY-Hereditary factors where by some families and generations have the susceptibility to primary valvular failure therefore can be inherited. This is to say that some people tend to inherit varicose veins from their parents at the same time they are prone to pass it to their offspring.
  • POSTURE-Prolonged standing and sitting with legs down leads to increased hydrostatic pressure that can cause chronic venous distension and secondary valvular incompetence anywhere within the superficial venous system.
  • DURING PREGNANCY -The increased weight during pregnancy adds pressure to the legs therefore may lead to varicose veins. Also, circulating hormonal factors increase the distensibility of vein walls and soften valve leaflets. Late in pregnancy, the enlarged uterus compresses the inferior vena cava, causing further venous hypertension and secondary distension of leg veins.
  • HORMONES-Varicose veins occur both in men and women, but are more frequent in women because vein walls and valves periodically become more distensible under the influence of cyclic increase in progesterone.
  • Due to lack of exercise and advanced overweight, veins become very weak and develop into varicose veins. Due to obesity a lot of fat gets deposited. This weakens the support system of the veins, resulting in the veins dilating and becoming tortuous.

  • AGING-Dietary deficiencies or the loss of skin elasticity due to ageing are the contributing factors.
  •  OCCUPATION-Different occupations demand different dressing code. For example High-heeled sandals and tight clothing are significant contributors to the development of varicose veins; they obstruct the normal flow of blood in the veins.

  • WEIGHT-Repeated heavy lifting can interfere with normal circulation (to increase the likelihood that varicose veins will develop and can worsen existing varicosities).
  • Alcohol and cigarette use.
  •  Constipation, which can contribute to varicose veins.
  • Primary valvular incompetence.
  • Decreased number of valves. 
  • Ligamentous laxity (hernia, flat feet).
  • Incompetent perforating veins, Vein wall weakness and Vein wall metabolic dysfunction. 
  • Secondary valvular incompetence.
  • Phlebitis.
  • Deep vein thrombosis

PREVENTION OF VARICOSE VEINS

  • Regular exercise whereby one is advised to; walk for averagely 15 minutes daily, jogging, swimming in order to improve blood circulation and to strengthen leg muscles. When you are sitting down, rotate your feet at the ankles in both directions, making small circles. Extend your legs, and point and flex your feet. Repeat for a minute or two once an hour.  
  • Do not stand or sit for long periods of time but if one must stand, shift your weight from one leg to another every few minutes. Sit down frequently and elevate your legs. Bounce up and down on the tips of the toes several times an hour. Take a walk if you can. 
  • Do not cross your legs when sitting and try to elevate your legs when resting. Try not crossing the legs at the knees when sitting. If you can’t prop up the feet, set them flat on the floor or cross them at the ankles. Crossing legs at the knees squeezes veins and blocks blood flow.
  • Wear compression stockings help relieve symptoms and slow the progress of varicose veins. Compression stockings are elastic stockings that squeeze veins and prevent blood from flowing backwards. Put the stockings on before getting out of the bed every morning and wear all the day.
  • Regularly elevating legs elevating the legs helps keep the blood from pooling in the lower legs and improves blood flow to the rest of the body.  Keep the legs elevated when you sit or lie down; use a foot rest at work and a foot stool at home to elevate the feet.  
  • Avoid tight clothing that may restrict blood flow in the waist, groin or legs increasing the risk of developing varicose veins.
  • Maintaining ideal body weight since too much body fat can put pressure on the thighs and groin, weakening the walls and valves of the veins in the legs and groin.  
  • Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes as they restrict ankle movement and thereby affect the pumping mechanism of the large veins in the feet and calves. Low-heeled or athletic shoes help strengthen the calf muscles and improve blood circulation.  

  • High fiber diet food reduces the chance of constipation which can contribute to varicose veins. Eating too much salt can retain water or swell and therefore low salt in food intake is advisable.

Preferred foods: Whole food diet with emphasis on the following foods: fresh fruits, including berries and cherries, and citrus fruits, whole grains especially buckwheat, and millet, garlic, onion, ginger and cayenne pepper. Eat plenty of fish and cut down on red meat as much as possible. Moderately restrict fats and refined carbohydrates in the diet. 

Foods to avoid: Sugar, salt, fried foods, processed and refined foods, animal protein, cheeses and ice cream. 

  • Yoga- Yoga’s stretching and relaxation techniques can be particularly beneficial for varicose veins. The deep breathing exercise in yoga may further alleviate discomfort by getting more oxygen into the bloodstream .Breathe deeply through nose and gravity helps pull blood form legs. The deep breathing creates a pull in chest cavity that also draws blood from the legs. Fresh blood then enters the legs, easing the pain. The exercise should be done once a day for about 15 minutes.  

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

DIAGNOSIS

Varicose veins are usually diagnosed by inspection, but their extent can be determined only by palpation with the patient standing

TREATMENT

 1. Sclerotherapy:  Sclerosant is injected directly into the veins using a very fine needle. The solution irritates the veins, causing the veins to swell, stick together and seal shut, thus closing it off and preventing any blood flow and the vein turns into scar tissue. In a few weeks, the vein should fade, by the body’s natural healing process. It may need to be treated more than once.  

2. Ablation:  Use a thin, flexible tube (catheter) inserted into a varicose vein. Tiny electrode at the tip of the catheter heats the walls of varicose vein and destroys the vein tissue. As with chemical sclerotherapy, vein is then no longer able to carry blood, breaks up naturally, and is absorbed by the body.  

3. Laser treatment:  Inserts a tiny fiber into a varicose vein through a catheter. The fiber sends out laser energy that kills the diseased portion of the varicose vein. The vein closes and the body eventually absorbs it.  

4. Vein stripping:  With this treatment, problematic veins are tied shut and completely removed from the leg. Removing the veins does not affect the circulation of the blood in the leg. Veins deeper in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood. Most varicose veins removed by surgery are surface veins and collect blood only from the skin. 

 As always stay healthy.