What are varicose veins?
A health article about varicose veins fromYour Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies
Alternative names :- Varicosity; Varicosis
These are the names for veins are dilated, tortuous veins engorged with blood that results from improper venous valve function. They can be primary, originating in the superficial veins, or secondary, occurring in the deep veins.
About 10% to 20% of Americans have primary varicose veins, which account for approximately 90% of varicose veins. They're twice as common in women as in men. Primary varicose veins also tend to be familial and affect both legs. Usually, secondary varicose veins occur in one leg. Both types are more common in middle adulthood.
Without treatment, varicose veins continue to enlarge. And, although there's no cure, certain measures, such as walking and using compression stockings, can reduce symptoms. Surgery may remove varicose veins; however, the condition can occur in other veins.
Signs & Symptoms
The first sign of varicose veins is a swelling along the course of the veins. This may be followed
by muscular cramps and a feeling of tiredness in the legs behind he knees. In some cases, the
normal flow of blood towards the heart may be reversed when the patient is in an upright
This results in venous blood collecting in the lower part of the legs and the skin
becomes purplish and pigmented, leading to what is known as varicose eczema or varicose
ulcers. Both conditions cause severe pain.
Signs and symptoms of varicose veins may include:
• dilated, tortuous, purplish, ropelike veins, particularly in the calves, due to venous pooling
• edema of the calves and ankles due to deep vein incompetence
• leg heaviness that worsens in the evening and in warm weather (caused by venous pooling)
• dull aching in the legs after prolonged standing or walking, which may be due to tissue breakdown
• aching during menses as a result of increased fluid retention.
Possible complications of varicose veins include blood clots second3IY to venous stasis, venous stasis ulcers, and chronic venous insufficiency.
Types of varicose veins
Veins are thin-walled vessels through which the impure blood is carried back to the heart. They
usually have valves which regular the flow of blood towards the heart. Varicose veins are a
condition in which veins become enlarged, dilated or thickened.
Varicose veins can occur in any part of the body but generally appear on the legs. The veins of
the legs are the largest in the body and they carry the blood from the lower extremities upwards
towards the heart. The direction of circulation in these vessels is largely determined by gravity.
Though there are no mechanical obstacles to blood-flow, it is usually the incompetence of the
valve which leads to an increase in intravenous pressure.
Varicose veins have an unsightly appearance and can be dangerous. A blood clot within a large,
greatly dilated vein may breakaway and move toward the heart and lungs, causing serious
complications. Varicose veins are about thrice as common as occurrence in women as in men.
This disease is rare in rural undeveloped societies.
You can get this all over your body but in most cases you can clearly see it on your legs. Little blue and red lines that starts to appear and "grow" on your legs and in other cases the blood vessel becomes swollen and seems as if it will explode.
Normally this is not painful but it can look pretty ugly. Although not painful you can experience some discomfort that you might not even associate with those ugly veins. This discomfort could be symptoms of bad circulation.
Sometimes in the case of varicose veins, (which happen when the valves in the veins become weak or break, allowing blood to collect in the veins instead of being carried up to the heart), bad blood circulation may occur.
What Causes varicose veins?
Veins are thin-walled, distensible vessels with valves that keep blood flowing in one direction. Any condition that weakens, destroys, or distends these valves allows blood back flow to the previous valve. If a valve can't hold the pooling blood, it may become incompetent, allowing even more blood to flow backward.
As the volume of venous blood builds, pressure in the vein increases and the vein becomes distended. As the vein is stretched, its wall weakens and it loses its elasticity.
As the vein enlarges, it becomes lumpy and tortuous. As hydrostatic pressure increases, plasma is forced out of the vein and into the surrounding tissue, resulting in edema.
Primary varicose veins can result from:
• congenital weakness of the valves or venous wall
• conditions that produce prolonged venous stasis or increased intra abdominal pressure, such as pregnancy, obesity, constipation, wearing tight clothes, or standing for prolonged periods
• occupations that necessitate standing for an extended period
• family history of varicose veins.
Secondary varicose veins can result from:
• deep vein thrombosis
• venous malformation
• arteriovenous fistulas
• trauma to the venous system
A varicose condition of the veins results from sluggish circulation due to various factors such as
constipation, dietetic errors, lack of exercise and smoking. Standing for long periods and wearing
tight clothings can also lead to sluggish circulation.
Pregnancy may cause varicose veins due to
increased pressure in the pelvis and abdomen, which slows down the flow of blood from the
lower extremities to the heart.
Women usually suffer from this condition in the early years of
child-bearing. Obesity can also cause varicose veins.
You need to be aware that some of the complications that can come about as a result of bad circulation if left untreated include heart attack, stroke,amputation and death. Those afflicted with bad circulation may suffer from many problems that are sometimes attributed to other areas.
The following precautionary measures will help prevent varicose veins and ease symptoms if the
disease has already developed :
When on a long plane or train trip get up and walk around every half an hour. If on a long
trip by car, stop once in a while and get out to stretch your legs.
When you are reading or watching television, elevate your feet and rest your legs on a
chair or stool.
Mobility helps general circulation. Walking is beneficial as the movements of leg muscles
help push the blood upwards. Swimming or walking in deep water does much the same
thing. The great pressure of the water against legs helps move the blood up the veins and
protects against stagnation.
Sleeping with feet raised slightly above the level of the heart helps the blood flow away
from ankles. In case of serious troubles with varicose veins, the bed should be raised by
placing blocks of six inches height under the posts at the foot. This is, however, not
advisable for person with heart trouble.
If confined to bed, movement of feet and legs should be encouraged to help keep
circulation moving youthfully.
Round garters should never be worn. They cut off the venous circulation, thus raising
pressure in the veins and increasing the risk of varicositis.
Elastic girdles should not be worn continuously , especially when seated for a long time,
such as at a desk, or during a plane, train or auto trip. The girdles bunch up and hamper
the return flow of blood.
Pregnant woman should wear elastic stockings and lie down occasionally during the day.
Getting up soon after delivery is also helpful in blood circulation.
These easy-to-follow flex-exercises are beneficial as they ease the cause of varicose veins and
thereby relieve the resultant symptoms. Sun bathing and deep breathing exercises are also
Certain inverted yoga postures such as viparitakarni, sarvagasana, and shirshashana are
beneficial in the treatment of varicose veins as they drain the blood from the legs and reduce
pressure on the veins. They help to relax the muscles and allow the blood freely in and out of the
lower extremities. Padmasana, gomukhasana, vajrasana and shalabhasana are also beneficial.
When to seek Medical Advice:
Tests used to help diagnose varicose veins include:
• manual compression test to detect a palpable impulse when the vein is firmly occluded at least 8" (20 cm) above the point of palpation, indicating incompetent valves in the vein
• Trendelenburg's test (retrograde filling test) to detect incompetent valves in deep and superficial veins
• photoplethysmography to characterize venous blood flow by noting changes in the skin's circulation
• Doppler ultrasonography to detect the presence or absence of venous back flow in deep or superficial veins
• venous outflow and reflux plethysmography to detect deep venous occlusion (invasive; not routinely used)
• ascending and descending venography to demonstrate venous occlusion and patterns of collateral flow.
The most common treatments of varicose veins today is with laser or by injecting a chemical into the vein, which closes of the affected vein. It forces other stronger veins to take over the job of carrying the blood back to the heart.
• treatment of the underlying cause, such as abdominal tumor and obesity, if possible
• antiembolism stockings or elastic bandages to counteract swelling by supporting the veins and improving circulation
• regular exercise program that promotes muscular contraction to force blood through the veins and reduce venous pooling
• injection of a sclerosing agent into small to medium-sized varicosities
• surgical stripping and ligation of severe varicose veins
• phlebectomy (removing varicose vein through small incisions in the skin), which may be performed in an outpatient setting.
Additional treatment measures include:
• discouraging the patient from wearing constrictive clothing that interferes with venous return
• encouraging the obese patient to lose weight to reduce increased intra abdominal pressure
• telling the patient to elevate her legs above her heart whenever possible to promote venous return
• instructing the patient to avoid prolonged standing or sitting because these actions enhance venous pooling.
Varicose veins removal by laser treatment
Laser ablation is a new non-surgical way to cure varicose veins which has been developed over the past five years at centres in USA, Spain and Germany. It is performed as an outpatient "walk in, walk out" procedure with no requirement for general anaesthetic or overnight stays in hospital.
The laser treatment involves the insertion of a laser fibre into the varicose vein of the thigh from the knee to the groin using ultrasound imaging to guide the way. The laser fibre is then withdrawn along the vein, heating it from within to close it, using local anaesthetic to minimize discomfort. The treatment session lasts in the region of one hour. A pressure stocking is applied and must be worn for a week. The majority of patients can return to normal activities including work the next day.
• Phlebitis (chronic inflammation of the vein)
• Formation of leg ulcers
• Rupture of a varicose vein
After stripping and ligation or after injection of a sclerosing agent, administer analgesics, as ordered, to relieve pain.
• Frequently check circulation in toes (color and temperature), and observe elastic bandages for bleeding. When ordered, rewrap bandages at least once per shift, wrapping from toe to thigh with the leg elevated.
• Watch for signs and symptoms of complications, such as sensory loss in the leg (which could indicate saphenous nerve damage), calf pain (which could indicate thrombophlebitis), and fever (a sign of infection).
• Encourage the patient to ambulate after surgery and elevate her legs whenever possible to reduce swelling.
• Avoid prolonged standing if personal or family history indicates you are at risk of developing varicose veins.
Self Care strategies for Living with varicose veins
Some of the traditional treatments of bad circulation in the legs are:
The alternate hot and cold hip bath is very valuable and should be taken daily. The affected
parts should be sprayed with cold water or cold packs should be applied to them. A mud pack
may be applied at night and allowed to remain until morning. A hot Epsom-salt bath is also very
valuable and should be taken twice a week.
Resting with the legs elevated (with the feet raised above the hips)
Wearing fitted elasticized compression stockings
Losing weight, if obesity is considered to be making the problem worse.
Like there are different kinds of bad circulation there are also different kinds of treatments you can do on your own in order to prevent and eliminate bad circulation.
If you think you have bad circulation, see your doctor, because bad circulation can be quite serious and an indication of another medical problem.
Diet change strategies:
For a proper treatment of varicose veins, the patients should, in the beginning, be put on a juice
fast for four or five days or on all-fruit diet for 7 to 10 days. A warm water enema should be
administered daily during this period to cleanse the bowels and measures should be taken to
After the juice fast or all the fruits- diet the patient should adopt restricted diet plan. In this
regimen, oranges or orange and lemon juice may be taken for breakfast. The midday meal may
consist of a raw salad or any of the vegetables in the season with olive oil and lemon juice
Steamed vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, carrots, turnips, cauliflower and
raisins, figs or dates may be taken in the evening. No bread or potatoes or other starchy food
should be included in this diet, or otherwise the whole effect of the diet will be lost.
After the restricted diet, the patient may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet with
emphasis on grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits. About 75 per cent of the diet should
consist of raw vegetables and fruits.
All condiments , alcoholic drinks, coffee, strong tea, white
flour products, white sugar, and white sugar products should be strictly avoided. A short fast or
the all-fruit diet for two or three days may be undertaken every month, depending on the
Raw vegetables juices, especially carrot juice in combination with spinach juice, have proved
highly beneficial in the treatment of varicose veins. The formula proportion considered helpful in
this combination are carrot 300 ml. and spinach 200 ml to prepare 500 ml of juice.
Certain nutrients, especially vitamin E and C have also been found effective in the treatment of
this disease. The patient should take vitamin C in a therapeutic dose up to 3,000 mg. and Vitamin
E in therapeutic doses from 600 to 1200 I.U. daily. This will relieve him of pain and leg cramps
associated with varicose veins.
Vitamin & Nutrient Associations
Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.
It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.
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This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.
Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your varicose veins problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will support your circulation and assist you body to heal from the inside out.
We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.
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