Varicose veins are the term for permanently enlarged veins. If many of these veins have formed, one speaks of a varicosis. Varicose veins are often genetically predisposed, but the cause is also a thrombosis in question. First symptoms can be tired, achy or swollen legs as well as spider veins. Later, blue, tortuous veins often appear under the skin. If varicose veins are present, they must be removed frequently. Which treatment is appropriate depends, among other things, on the severity of the disease. We will introduce you to a variety of treatments and how to prevent varicose veins.
Causes of varicose veins
Varicose veins are not uncommon - more than 50 percent of all Germans suffer from dilated veins during their lifetime. Most of the time they occur on the legs. In addition, varicose veins often form in the esophagus (esophageal varices). They are caused by increased pressure in the portal vein, as is the case with liver cirrhosis.
Overall, men are much less affected by varicose veins than women. If enlarged veins are formed in men, the testes are often affected in addition to the legs. A varicose vein on the testicles should always be examined by a doctor, as it can lead to infertility in the worst case.
In general, varicose veins can have many different causes. Depending on the cause, a distinction is made between primary and secondary varicosis.
In about 95 percent of all cases, primary varicosis is the cause of varicose veins. Primary varicosity is the underlying cause of complaints if venous wall or connective tissue weakness is present. Due to the tissue weakness, the venous valves do not close properly and the blood can not be transported without problems. The blood in the veins collapses, dilates and produces unsightly varicose veins.
In addition to the genetic predisposition, there are many other factors that can increase the risk of varicose veins:
- female gender
- increasing age
- lack of exercise
- standing occupational activity
- tight clothes
- Taking birth control pills
If the varicose veins are the result of a deep vein thrombosis, it is called a secondary varicosis. By closing the deep vein, the blood has to find a new way through the superficial venous system. Depending on the length and intensity of the overload, the venous valves can be permanently damaged. If the blood can not be transported as usual, but accumulates back, develop varicose veins.
In case of deep vein thrombosis, early diagnosis is particularly important as otherwise there is a risk of pulmonary embolism. Typical symptoms that indicate a thrombosis are pain and swelling in the area of the calf. Often the calf feels warm or discolored.
Varicose veins in pregnancy
Many women develop varicose veins during pregnancy. This is because the hormonal changes in pregnancy lead to a relaxation of muscle and connective tissue. This also affects the veins.
In addition, the uterus in the course of pregnancy increasingly presses on the veins in the pelvis and on the inferior vena cava. This increases the blood pressure in the leg veins and the development of varicose veins is favored. In general, the risk of venous insufficiency increases with the number of pregnancies.
Typical symptoms: recognize varicose veins
Often varicose veins can be recognized directly as they shimmer under the skin. The dilated veins are thick and blue and have a serpentine and gnarled course.
They are to be distinguished from small spider veins, which are much finer and have either a reddish or bluish color. Spider veins themselves are harmless, but may indicate a venous insufficiency. Therefore, spider veins should always be clarified by a doctor.
If the varicose veins are not obvious at first glance, the following symptoms may indicate venous insufficiency:
- Heavy, tired and aching legs can be an indication of varicose veins.
- After prolonged sitting or standing, the legs are often swollen.
- Typically, the symptoms worsen in the evening and in warm temperatures.
- Elevating and cooling the legs usually relieves pain and swelling.
If you suspect that you have a venous disease, you should consult a doctor. It is best to consult a vein specialist - a so-called phlebologist. This can determine whether you are really varicose veins and then initiate a suitable therapy in the way.
If varicose veins are not treated in time, they can cause serious complications. For example, phlebitis can occur, which in turn can lead to the formation of a blood clot.
If the varicose vein disease progresses, swelling in the legs (edema) is becoming more common. This is because the blood volume in the veins increases and therefore fluid is pressed into surrounding tissue. Likewise, eczema - inflammatory irritations of the skin - may occur. Years of irritation to the skin can cause dark discoloration, scars and, in the worst case, an open leg.