About 10 percent of men and 30 percent of women in developed countries consult health practitioners for venous signs and symptoms. In most of the cases, these persons are usually found with one or multiple risk factors that underlie their conditions such as excess weight, heredity, professions requiring them to stand or sit for long periods and previous injuries or traumas.
Varicose veins when left untreated can evolve and result into further complications including skin pigmentation, eczema, chronic edema, leg ulcerations and feelings of tiredness and heaviness in the legs.
Varicose veins may point towards deeper seated problems which may pose danger not only to the circulation system but the entire body as well. This means an early diagnosis is essential so that you do not suffer the graduated consequences of the condition.
According to the American Society for Vascular Surgery, about 20 to 25 million Americans suffer varicose veins a majority of them being women. In the Vascular Disease Foundation Newsletter of Spring 2005, it was established that vein disorders has led to many people missing out on work than arterial diseases.
Cause of Varicose Veins
Your veins may be tiny but each one are a series of one way valves that allow blood flow in one direction only and hence stop it from flowing backwards. It’s when these valves weaken and cease to work properly that blood can leak, flow backwards and collect in the veins causing them to become swollen and enlarged … varicose veins!
Classification of Varicose Veins
There are two main types of varicose veins; primary and secondary. While primary varicose veins are associated with gender heredity, age, weight among other risk factors, secondary varicose veins are caused by deep vein occlusion. This causes the blood flow to shift to the superficial veins leading to dilatation, valve insufficiency and elongation. In its advanced stages, varicose veins cause chronic venous insufficiency.
How Varicose Veins Are Diagnosed
Medical history – The practitioner first enquires about the medical history of the affected individual to be able to see whether there are any links to past medical conditions such as traumas or injuries which may have contributed to varicose veins. This information is important and the sufferer must give it in its completeness.
Physical examination – Apart from the medical history, physical examination is done to establish the existence and assess the extent of progression of the problem. Visible signs such as skin ulcerations help the practitioner to make objective conclusions and give the way forward. Physical examination may also include checking of the BMI for cases of excess weight.
Duplex ultrasound – This is a vascular procedure which is done to assess the structure of the leg veins and blood flow. The reason why it is called duplex is because two modes of ultrasound are employed; Doppler and B-mode. The Doppler probe evaluates the direction and velocity of blood flow in the veins whereas the B-mode transducer which looks like a microphone helps in obtaining an image of the vein or veins under study.
Color-flow imaging – This is also referred to as triplex ultrasound. It is similar to duplex ultrasound in procedure but uses color to highlight the direction of the flow of blood. The blood vessels are colored red or blue depending in the direction in which the blood is flowing. There is also a color scale which reflects the speed of the blood flow.
Magnetic resonance venography – This is a diagnostic procedure which uses radio frequencies, a large magnet and a computer to produce images of structures and organs in the body. To visualize the veins, the system uses intravenous contrast dye and magnetic resonance technology. The contrast dye makes the blood vessels appear opaque on x-ray images thereby allowing the doctor to see the affected vessels clearly.
Treatment of Varicose veins
- Your medical history, age, and overall health
- The extent and progression of your varicose veins problem
- The nature of your signs and symptoms
- Your preference or opinion
In cases where there are no symptoms or discomfort, treatment may not be necessary. Among the effective and accessible treatment options include:
Compression stockings – these stockings help in relieving the pain caused by the symptoms while at the same time slowing the progress of varicose veins by improving the venous blood circulation.
Sclerotherapy –In this procedure, a chemical or saline solution is injected into the affected veins causing them to harden and prevent filling with blood. The injected veins ultimately shrivel and disappear.
Other than these treatment methods, other options include laser treatment, vein stripping, small incision avulsion and trans-illuminated powered phlebectomy.
Varicose vein creams – these are naturally formulated topical creams that bring together a rich combination of botanical compounds capable of arresting, reversing and completely eliminating the varicose vein problem. Some of the common ingredients used in these creams include Aloe Vera, Vitamin A, E and K, Cyclotetrasiloxane, Isopropyl Myristate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate among many others.
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