Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Avoiding Varicose Veins in Vain?

Avoiding Varicose Veins in Vain?

Age and family history play a role, but you can get a leg up.
By Dr. Rob for MSN Health & Fitness

As for why women in particular get varicose veins, some additional and unique reasons that increase their risk include: Hormonal changes (puberty and menopause), birth control pills, post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy, and pregnancy (the greater the number the higher the likelihood). In fact, pregnancy-related varicose veins also can form around the vagina and anus (hemorrhoids).



Avoiding Varicose Veins in Vain?

Age and family history play a role, but you can get a leg up.
By Dr. Rob for MSN Health & Fitness

http://health.msn.com/health-topics/skin-and-hair/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100150860
Q: Why do women get varicose veins? I have noticed some on my legs. How can I avoid them?

A: There are many reasons why adults get varicose veins—age (one out of two people over the age of 50); a family history of varicose veins; obesity; leg injuries; and jobs or activities that require prolonged standing on a regular basis. As you have already noticed, the legs are the main area for varicose veins to appear. This is partly due to the effects of gravity as it makes it more difficult for the blood to return to our heart as it re-circulates back from the lower half of our body.

As for why women in particular get varicose veins, some additional and unique reasons that increase their risk include: Hormonal changes (puberty and menopause), birth control pills, post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy, and pregnancy (the greater the number the higher the likelihood). In fact, pregnancy-related varicose veins also can form around the vagina and anus (hemorrhoids).

While varicose veins may not cause any major symptoms, there are subtle clues as to their effects.
These include:
• Dark blue and bulging veins just beneath the skin’s surface.
• Occasional swelling in the lower legs or ankles.
• Thin, purple lines on the skin (spider veins).
• A throbbing or achy feeling in the legs.
• Brown discoloration of the skin, especially noticeable around the ankles.
• A burning or itching feeling around the inflamed and bulging vein.
• Stasis dermatitis (skin breakdown) near the ankle due to poor circulation.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please see your health care provider. During your visit you will be asked about your medical history and undergo a thorough examination. If needed, a non-invasive test such as a duplex ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to look at the veins, may be performed.

While there is no perfect way to avoid varicose veins, lifestyle changes are the first step in any treatment program. Although they don’t cure the problem, they do have the potential to lessen the severity and reduce the risk for additional varicose or spider veins.
Suggestions include:
• Regular exercise, especially walking, to improve leg strength, circulation and vein strength.
• Avoiding long periods of standing or sitting in one place.
• Wearing elastic support stockings if you stand for long periods of time or already have problems with varicose veins. These compression stockings help improve blood flow in the leg veins.
• Avoiding tight clothing that constricts your waist, groin region or legs.
• Periodically shifting weight from one foot to another when standing still for several minutes or more. It helps to flex each foot up and down to enhance muscle contraction and blood flow through the veins.
• Elevating your legs above the level of your heart whenever possible. This technique enlists gravity to help the blood flow “downhill” and return to the heart
• Controlling your weight to avoid extra pressure on the veins.
• Following a low salt diet. Too much salt can lead to water retention in some individuals, which in turn can cause lower leg swelling and increased pressure on the veins.
• Avoiding crossing the legs at the knees when sitting. Assuming this position puts more pressure on the leg veins, making it more difficult for the blood to flow in the right direction.
If the varicose veins are still presenting a problem in spite of lifestyle changes, surgical options are available.
These include, but aren’t limited to, injection therapy (for small varicose veins), endoscopic vein surgery (for more severe cases), laser therapy, and surgical ligation—where problem veins are tied off and removed.
In the meantime, please know complications from varicose veins can arise and requires an immediate visit to your physician.
These include but aren’t limited to:
• A painful and swollen leg.
• A tender, warm or painful lump on or near the varicose vein.
• Difficulty walking or pain while standing.
• Bleeding from the vein if it is injured.
• Swelling of your feet or ankles.
• Formation of an open ulcer (stasis ulcer), usually located near the ankle.
• Reddened and warm area on the skin near the vein (cellulitis).
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