Varicose veins develop in the legs when there is too much pressure on healthy veins and it becomes difficult for the heart and vein to push the blood against gravity back to the heart. The vein wall becomes weak and the tiny valves inside the vein that close so the blood does not flow backward fail to function properly. This allows the blood to pool in the vein and makes it bulge, twist and stretch out of shape.
Causes of Varicose Veins
Heredity is the main cause of enlarged veins. This means that if one of your parents or grandparents developed vein problems, there is a good chance you will too. Other causes include:
- Obesity – excess weight is not healthy for any bodily system, but it puts a lot of pressure on the heart and circulatory system. When the heart and veins need to overwork, they may wear out faster. The veins become tired, the valves fail to function and enlarged veins develop.
- Pregnancy – just like obesity, pregnancy may cause the heart and veins to overwork. The good news is that the problem veins may recede about three months after delivery. However, after multiple pregnancies, the veins may not recede.
- Lifestyle – people who stand or sit for hours may be at higher risk of developing varicose veins. This is because sitting blocks the flow of blood and standing makes it more difficult for the veins to push the blood up the legs. Lack of exercise may also contribute to the development of varicose veins because exercise makes the leg muscles help the veins push the blood up the legs. If you sit for hours, try to walk around a few minutes every hour and if you stand for hours, try to sit with your feet raised above your heart several times a day.
- Hormonal changes – puberty, menopause and birth control pills all cause fluctuations of hormones. These may contribute to the development of varicose veins. This is one reason women are more prone to enlarged veins than men.
In some cases, the veins may begin to bulge, but they don’t show on the surface of the skin. Whether the veins show or not, there are some common symptoms that indicate you have varicose veins. You may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Heaviness and aching in the legs
- Discoloration of the skin around the ankles
- Sores or ulcers on the skin that do not heal quickly
- Uncontrollable itching for no apparent reason
- Restless legs especially at night
When you visit our vein specialist at Pacific Vein Care, your varicose veins will be examined and the best course of treatment will be recommended. At our office in McHenry, IL, we strive to give our patients the best and most thorough care possible. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!