Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins which occurs when damaged or weakened valves in your veins fail to do their job.
Our legs are equipped with one-way valves that keep the blood moving toward the heart by muscle contractions in your lower legs, but when the valves don’t work correctly, blood is flowing back into the veins. The veins will then swell from the accumulation of blood and the risk of varicose veins increase.
Any superficial vein could potentially come varicosed, but varicose veins typically occur in your feet or legs due to increased pressure in the veins in your lower extremities from prolonged sitting, standing, or walking.
Varicose veins can for sure be unsightly; many people find them more a cosmetic concern than a medical problem and do not have any other issues from them. Again, others experience more serious complications from their varicose veins ranging from itching, discoloring, painful bulging veins to blood clots and ulcers.
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WHO HAS A HIGHER RISK OF GETTING VARICOSE VEINS?
As we get older the risk of getting varicose veins increase. The valves in our legs sometimes get weaker, allowing for blood to leak back into the veins where it accumulates instead of all of the blood returning to the heart.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women are more prone to develop varicose veins than men. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, pre-menstruation, or menopause are all possible factors since hormones tend to relax the vein walls.
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing varicose veins during pregnancy due to an about 50% increase of blood and fluids in the body. This increase of fluids is necessary to accommodate the needs of the growing fetus but may also cause an unpleasant side effect of varicose veins in the legs.
Anyone sitting for extended periods of time has an increased risk of getting varicose veins, because of impaired blood flow due to inactivity. Same goes with anyone standing for prolonged periods of time.
Finally, family history and obesity are two factors known to increase the risk of developing varicose veins at some point in time.