Varicose veins are not particularly pleasant, even though they rarely have serious health consequences. But if you are concerned that you may develop them, you may want to know what causes them. Here is what you need to know about the main causes of varicose veins.
What Are Varicose Veins?
To understand what causes varicose veins, you first need to understand what they are. Varicose veins are swollen veins that are often lumpy and twisted. They are usually dark purple or blue, and they often appear on the legs.
Along with the appearance of the veins, you may feel aching in your legs, swollen ankles and cramp. If you think you may have varicose veins, visit your GP to get them checked, and they will be able to diagnose them.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
So what causes them? According to the NHS, they develop when the valves that are inside the veins do not work properly.
With a healthy vein, blood flows through the vein easily and it only goes in one direction.
It cannot go backwards because there is a series of tiny valves in the vein that open and close.
Their job is to let the blood move through the vein smoothly.
Sometimes, these valves can become weak or get damaged. When this happens, the blood may flow the wrong way and start to collect. The veins swell up, and this is when they turn into varicose veins.
The valves can also weaken due to changes in the walls of the vein. When the walls become stretched, they can become less elastic, and this can affect the valves.
Why do the veins stretch in the first place? We are still not completely sure. Sometimes people develop varicose veins unexpectedly for no reason at all.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Even though we may not be sure exactly why some people are affected by varicose veins, we know that certain people are more at risk. So what factors affect the risk of developing varicose veins?
Firstly, women are more likely to experience problems with varicose veins. This may be due to female hormones affecting the walls of the veins and relaxing them, making the valves more likely to leak.
Elderly people are also more likely to develop them. Genetics plays a role too, and you are more likely to develop varicose veins if someone in your family has them.
Your occupation could be a risk factor. It is thought that people who stand up for long periods may be more likely to develop varicose veins.
You may also have more chance of developing varicose veins if you are pregnant.
You cannot control many of these factors. However, one factor you may have more control over is your weight.
People who are overweight are sometimes more likely to get varicose veins.
This is because being overweight puts more pressure on the veins, and they have to work harder, which puts more pressure on the valves.
What Can You Do About Varicose Veins?
You may not be able to prevent varicose veins, but you can often get them treated.
If they are causing health problems, your doctor may suggest a treatment.
And even if they are not posing a health risk, you may want to get them treated for cosmetic reasons.
So find out about your options and don’t let varicose veins get you down.