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Updated: May 30, 2022

Varicose Veins affects 10-20% of population in the Western world. Nowadays varicose veins are also very common in India, with over ten million cases of the disease every year. Over 30 per cent of the adults are estimated to suffer from this disease. It causes morbidity and loss of precious work hours and a significant financial burden on the health-care system. Even then many people and even health practitioners in small towns are not aware of what is Varicose veins. So this blog deals with what is Varicose veins, what causes it and what are its Signs and Symptoms. My next blog will tell you more about the Do’s and Dont’s in Varicose, importance of herbs in healing Varicose veins and a perfect tried and tested herbal remedy for you.

Varicose veins are swollen, bulging and twisted bluish veins that become visible just beneath the skin surface. They most commonly appear in the legs and feet. A relative term Spider Veins is a smaller version of Varicose veins. Spider veins are found closer to the skin's surface and are often red or blue. They occur on the legs but can also be found on the face. They vary in size and often look like a spider's web.

We know that ‘Arteries’ are the blood vessels responsible for transporting oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body's cells, while ‘Veins’ govern the flow of oxygen-poor blood from the body's cells back to the heart. So the veins have to act or work against gravity. Normally, for this there are one-way valves in the veins. These cuplike valves alternately open to allow blood through and then close to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. Also the walls of the veins and its surrounding muscles work to propel or push the blood upwards against gravity. When these valves do not work as they should, blood collects in the superficial veins of the legs which have less muscular support, and pressure builds up leading to swelling or bulge. Also if the walls of the veins become weak or lose elasticity blood starts pooling and the veins appear large and twisted. Thus in a nut shell Varicose veins are caused either by weakened valves or walls in the leg veins.

As a secondary factor, once the blood has accumulated in the leg veins, it becomes mixed with digestive toxins or impurities, and gets thick and sluggish, thus contributing to ulcers in varicose veins.

As far as causes for Varicose veins are concerned, any condition that puts excessive pressure on the legs or abdomen can cause varicose veins, such as standing for long periods of time, hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and menopause, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, heavy lifting, chronic constipation, tumors, excessive physical activity that puts pressure on the legs, and aging. Dietary deficiencies or loss of skin elasticity can also contribute to the problem.

Varicose veins are a common condition. They usually cause few signs and symptoms. They can cause mild to moderate pain, swelling, itching and rashes. Varicose veins can also cause many severe health problems, such as blood clots within veins (called thrombophlebitis), venous eczema, skin breakdown and ulceration, bleeding and rarely, skin cancers.

Treatment of varicose veins and spider veins is not just for cosmetic reasons but for the health risks it poses over time. Usually specialists treat varicose veins surgically by making incisions (cuts) and removing the affected veins. But as all surgeries have some degree of risk, Varicose vein surgery also suffers from side effects like swelling, pain, scarring, staining and numbness which get resolved with time. Other possible complications after surgery may include: infection, blood clots forming within deep veins and bleeding or bruising. Also, about 20 per cent of people who have undergone varicose vein surgery will develop new crops of varicose veins over time.

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