Veins are blood vessels that transport deoxygenated blood from other parts of the body back into the lungs and the heart. When a vein becomes thicker than normal characterized by twists and turns and becomes enlarged, they become varicose veins.
Varicose veins are usually located in the veins of the thighs and the legs but they can form anywhere in the body. The parts which have thickened or dilated are what we call varicosities. In the US alone, it is estimated that 36% of women and 19% of men are suffering from varicosities. Varicose veins most often are hereditary and as aging progresses, they become more pronounced.
Why Varicose Veins Occur: Causes of Varicosities
There are a lot of theories regarding why varicose veins occur; but the bottom line is, it is due to the damaged and defective valves within a vein which causes it. Valves which are functioning ideally work to prevent the backward flow of blood; it works to ensure that deoxygenated blood within the veins moves toward the lungs and the heart. Until now, it is still not clear why valves can degenerate and work inefficiently causing varicosities.
Some medical experts point to heredity as one of the main reasons of varicose veins saying that these people have only a few valves as compared to others and some are predisposed to have valves that do not function well. Other people also have inborn problems and aberrations of the vein wall. This could result in the weakness of the valves which may cause valves to leak and separate in the long run. And when a person who is genetically predisposed for varicose veins and has poorly functioning valves would stand up on his feet, the flow of the blood reverses and flows down to the superficial veins instead of flowing towards the heart and lungs.
This reversal causes the accumulation of pressure with the superficial veins which could make the flow of blood worse. When this happens, damage to the veins can happen in the long run and eventually these affected veins would enlarge, twist and dilate. Learn what are the causes of vein disease and the best treatment for these veins.
Aggravating Factors for Varicose Veins
There are a lot of factors that could lead a person to have varicose veins especially if they are already predisposed to having them. The first aggravating factor that is common to a lot of people, specifically women, is pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, there is an increase in blood volume in the body. Also, pregnant women carry more pressure on the veins in their legs because of the increase in weight that comes with a growing and developing the fetus. More to this, the hormones which increase in pregnancy, namely progesterone and estrogen that flow in the walls of veins, can contribute to the development of varicosities.
Another aggravating factor can be attributed to straining. A person strains when he is constipated, struggling with a chronic cough, suffering from urinary retention caused by an enlarged prostate and other situations that may cause a person to strain for extended periods of time which may increase to the accumulating pressure in the veins. Especially with constipation, varicosities in the veins of the rectum and anus can form which are known as hemorrhoids.
Other aggravating factors that lead to the development of varicose veins are obesity, a distended belly, a previous trauma or surgery on the leg (which disrupts the normal flow of blood in this area), standing for prolonged periods of time and age (varicosities increase more with age).
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Identifying varicose veins are easy. They can be spotted with no difficulty which becomes a source of insecurity to those who are suffering from them. They bulge and protrude from beneath the skin and may feel ropey. It can also be bothersome because at times they could cause itching, a feeling of heaviness and pain. They may become bothersome and prominent during pregnancy and during menstruation.
Most of all, they are known to cause severe pain in some people upon standing. It is also known to cause cramps at night time in which pain is intensified after a long day of standing. A lot of people also do not have any other symptoms aside from its appearance on the skin which is considered a cosmetic problem by most people.
Indeed, varicosities are a commonly occurring condition that has caused a lot of people to worry. Fortunately, help is available for the intervention and treatment of varicose veins.