Varicose Veins – Are You At Risk?
Varicose veins don’t usually cause any pain but their appearance is a great concern to many people and may signal other health problems associated with poor circulation. Here are some of the leading factors that put you at risk.
Properly functioning valves inside your veins keep blood flowing to the heart and prevent it from pooling in the veins. As our bodies grow older these valves wear out and may not function effectively. Damaged or poorly functioning valves in your veins are a leading contributor to the problem.
It’s true, women are more prone to develop varicose veins than men. Doctors aren’t sure exactly why but speculate that changes to hormones during pregnancy may have something to do with it. During pregnancy a woman’s body has more blood to support the growing fetus but there is less blood flowing from the legs to the pelvis. Varicose veins emerge for the first time during pregnancy for many women and can become more prominent during later stages as the uterus exerts more pressure on the veins in your legs. Many hormones found in women’s bodies tend to relax the venous walls and contribute to the development of varicose veins.
Large studies have linked varicose veins to a family history. It is not the only factor but for some individuals it is possible to develop a problem even in the absence of other risk factors such as age, weight, and physical activity.
Lifestyle is an important factor in determining your risk of developing varicose veins. Prolonged sitting or standing in one position prevents proper function of the circulatory system. Veins rely on contraction of skeletal muscles and movement to help carry blood back to the heart. Without movement blood can pool in the veins and start to stretch the walls.
Being significantly overweight or obese puts added stress on many of your bodies organs, including the circulatory system. Veins are not able to function properly when surrounded by large amounts of fatty tissue.
Effects and Treatment of Varicose Veins
You may notice a feeling of heaviness in your legs and experience a throbbing, burning sensation and experience muscle cramps. You may also notice swelling in your lower legs. In most cases simple self-care such as exercise, putting your feet up and wearing compression socks can control or even alleviate the symptoms. If self-care is not effective see your doctor.
You should also see your doctor if you notice skin ulcers around your ankles. These are usually preceded by dark spots and may indicate that fluid is building up in these tissues. Occasionally you can develop a blood clot deep in the veins of your leg. If you notice sudden swelling you should seek medical attention immediately. This condition is a concern for long distance air travelers who may sit for extended periods of time. If you have varicose veins you may be more at risk and you should take precautions accordingly.