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Varicose Veins: Meaning, Causes, Formation, and Symptoms

In the human body, there are two main types of blood vessels: arteries and veins. Capillaries serve as auxiliary vessels to these main ones. Arteries are responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body, while veins pump the blood back to the heart for purification. Varicose veins primarily occur in the veins, specifically in the middle and thick veins. Spider veins, on the other hand, are small dilated blood vessels that often cause an aesthetically displeasing appearance.

What is Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins, classified as middle and thick veins, occur in the veins and can lead to serious complaints. Valves within the veins prevent the backflow of pumped blood. Over time, these valves, which act as check valves, may lose their function due to various reasons. Worn-out and damaged valves may allow a portion of the pumped blood to flow back. As the backflow accumulates within the vessel, it exceeds the vessel’s capacity, resulting in the dilation of the vessel. Therefore, a dilated vessel indicates the development of varicose vein disease.

Why Do Varicose Veins Occur? What Factors Contribute to the Formation of Varicose Veins?

  • Genetic factors, or family history, can play a significant role. Individuals with a family history of varicose veins in their parents are more likely to experience them. However, having a family history of varicose veins does not guarantee their occurrence, and individuals without a family history may still develop varicose veins.
  • Prolonged periods of sitting or standing in one position are another common factor in the formation of varicose veins. This is frequently observed in individuals who work desk jobs or stand for extended periods.
  • Excess weight can contribute to the onset of varicose veins, as it does with many health issues. The probability of varicose vein formation increases as the weight on the legs increases.
  • Varicose veins are often more prevalent in older individuals, as limited mobility can lead to their development.
  • During pregnancy, increased weight and reduced mobility can lead to the emergence of varicose veins.
  • Choices such as wearing high heels, crossing legs while sitting, inactivity, and consistently lifting or carrying heavy loads can influence the formation or progression of varicose veins.

Although varicose veins can occur in men, they are more commonly seen in women.

What Are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?

  • Veins may appear swollen and twisted when observed externally or can be felt by touch.
  • Individuals with varicose veins often experience pain, fatigue, and a sensation of heaviness in their legs, especially in the evening.
  • Spider veins may accompany middle and thick varicose veins.
  • Swelling and bruising around the ankles can occur due to pooling caused by the accumulation of blood.
  • Symptoms such as pain, itching, tingling, and particularly cramps that disrupt sleep may be observed, especially at night.

Not all varicose patients may exhibit symptoms. While some may experience all the mentioned discomforts, others may show none. The absence of symptoms does not imply that treatment is unnecessary. Advanced varicose veins may eventually lead to a condition known as varicose ulcers. In later stages, injuries or excessive scratching may result in wounds and bleeding on the leg or ankle. This significantly impacts the individual’s quality of life.

How Can Varicose Vein Symptoms and Complaints Be Reduced?

Varicose veins are not a condition that can be completely cured with any method at home. However, by incorporating certain self-care practices and precautions into your daily routine, you can significantly alleviate the symptoms. It’s crucial to understand that varicose vein treatment is inevitable, and no matter what you do, the symptoms won’t disappear entirely. To maintain your quality of life, seeking treatment is necessary, and even after treatment, it’s essential to take precautions against the factors contributing to the formation of new varicose veins.

Factors to Pay Attention to Prevent Varicose Veins and their Progression

  • If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, it is essential to put an end to it and increase your physical activity.
  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of daily walks. If possible, swimming and cycling can also be beneficial.
  • If your job requires prolonged sitting or standing, it is recommended to take short walks of 1-2 minutes at regular intervals. If you cannot leave your desk, perform foot and leg movements in your place. For example, if you are standing, you can rise to your toes and then lower them, repeating the movement. This helps stimulate leg movement and blood circulation. While sitting, you can also move your feet up and down by extending your legs.
  • When resting at home, lying down and lifting and lowering your legs can be a good exercise. Elevating your legs above heart level during rest is advantageous. You can support your legs with a cushion or a similar tool for this purpose.
  • Avoid wearing tight belts or cuffs. Tight clothing can hinder blood circulation and play a significant role in the formation or progression of varicose veins. Opting for loose clothing is much more comfortable.
  • If you have excess weight, try to lose weight. Remember that the more weight on the legs, the higher the likelihood of varicose vein formation.
  • Hot water and warm environments can increase varicose vein complaints. Avoid environments like saunas, steam rooms, and excessive sunbathing. Massage your legs with cold water. Swimming can be beneficial, but avoid sunbathing after being in the pool or the sea.