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Varicose Veins Risk Concerns and What to Look Out For

Varicose Veins Risk Concerns and What to Look Out For

Posted on July 20, 2021 by Dr. Stephen Rivard

According to statistics, about 30 million people in the US suffer from vein disease. If left untreated, varicose veins can gradually turn to severe Chronic Vein Insufficiency and worsen over time. While screening and diagnosis take about 15 minutes, only 1.9 million people seek treatment.

For most people, their biggest worry about varicose veins is their cosmetic appearance. However, varicosities have been associated with severe health problems. Therefore, it's imperative to understand the condition and seek medical attention before you experience any serious symptoms.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are also commonly known as varicosities and occur when veins become enlarged or dilated. Typically, varicose veins appear swollen, twisted, and often bulge on the skin surface. While this problem can develop anywhere, varicose veins mainly occur in the legs.

The leading cause of varicose veins is increased blood pressure in your veins. Also, the chances of developing varicosities are higher if you have damaged or weak valves in your veins. The valve's function is to ensure blood in the veins flow in one direction. Therefore, if the valves are damaged, blood can pool in the vein and result in enlarged and twisted veins.

And while anyone can develop varicosities, they tend to be more common in women, and it's attributed to hormonal changes. In addition, varicose veins are common in older adults, possibly due to the aging of veins.

Health Risks of Varicose Veins

While most people with varicose veins don't develop serious health complications, recent research indicates that people with varicosities have higher chances of developing pulmonary embolism or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

Pulmonary embolism occurs when blood clots travel to the lungs, causing a life-threatening condition that calls for immediate medical attention. While shortness of breath is the most common symptom, you may also experience dizziness, chest pains, and coughing up blood.

On the other hand, Deep Vein Thrombosis occurs when blood clots form in the deep veins in the tissues, normally in the lower legs or thighs. This condition can cause severe leg pain and swelling.

Other health complications associated with varicose veins may include:

  • minor bleeding near the skin surface
  • blood clots (thrombophlebitis)
  • formation of ulcers on the skin around the varicose veins
Serious Symptoms to Watch Out For

In most cases, varicose veins don't raise serious concerns, especially in the early stages. In addition to the unsightly appearance of the veins, you are likely to experience other common symptoms like:

  • itching and a burning sensation around the vein
  • aching and constant throbbing in the area around the vein
  • dry and irritated skin
  • occasional muscle cramps
  • fatigue and leg heaviness
  • mild or severe pain after a prolonged period of standing or sitting

In some cases, varicose veins can cause serious health complications, and it's essential to be on the lookout for the symptoms. If you notice a sudden increase in pain or swelling, it may be an indicator of a severe problem, and you should seek medical attention immediately. Also, it would be best if you didn't ignore a brownish skin discoloration that appears around the varicose veins.

Other serious symptoms that you should watch out for may include:

  • Bleeding veins
  • Sores and ulcers on the skin around problem veins
  • Veins that suddenly become hot and painful

While varicosities rarely lead to serious health complications, they have been associated with severe medical conditions that should never be ignored. Nevertheless, the good thing is that you can get several minimally invasive treatment options for varicose veins. Downtime and discomfort after treatment are minimal, and you can get immediate relief from symptoms.

If you are suffering from varicose veins, it's prudent to consult a medical professional. At Illinois Vein Specialists, we are committed to helping our patients get relief from discomforts caused by varicose veins. 

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