What are varicose veins?


What are varicose veins?

The basic definition according to the NHS website is

“Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins that usually occur on the legs and feet. They may be blue or dark purple and are often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance.”

To understand this better, let us get into a bit of human anatomy

We all know that arteries carry pure blood from the heart to the body parts and the veins carry impure blood from the body parts to the heart for purification. What needs to be understood here is, the arteries travel in the direction of gravity making the flow easier. But for the veins they travel against the gravity which makes it less easy.

The calf muscles have a valve which pumps blood to the heart. By definition, a valve is unidirectional and does not allow bidirectional flow. Due to various reasons like standing/sitting for long hours, smoking, obesity, using contraceptive pills, pregnancy etc. lead to the improper functioning of the valve thereby some part of the impure blood is collected in the calf muscle area.

Our body has superficial veins and deep veins. The superficial veins carry 10% of the blood and the remaining 90% by the deeper veins.

These superficial veins, which have impure blood collected result in blue-green vein knots, swollen veins, enlarged veins which are called varicose veins.

Some of the symptoms of varicose veins include (as per the NHS website)

  • aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs
  • swollen feet and ankles
  • burning or throbbing in your legs
  • muscle cramp in your legs, particularly at night
  • dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected vein

In case you have any of these symptoms or can visually see blue-green veins, it is always advisable to consult your physician for the presence of varicose veins.

Having a proper diet, doing regular exercises and wearing compression stockings can help you relieve tired and aching legs and help in reduction of further varicosities.

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