Vein problems often occur as people age, but several other factors can also contribute to these diseases. Pregnancy, sedentary lifestyles, genetics, obesity, occupations that require long periods of standing and injuries in the leg are also associated with vein problems. Fortunately, a number of treatments are available for the 3 most common vein diseases.
The Basics of Veins
While the arteries carry oxygen-enriched blood to all part of your body, the veins return oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. There are three kinds of veins in the human body. The superficial veins run close to the surface of the skin. The deep veins lie deep within the muscle tissues. The penetrating veins connect these two systems. Veins must constantly work against gravity when you are standing to continue to carry blood back to the heart.
1. Varicose Veins
Varicose veins look like enlarged veins that may be flesh-colored, red or blue. They have the appearance of knotted cords on the surface of the legs. They may look twisted and bulging or look raised above the surface. Varicose veins are often seen in the calves, thighs or inner leg. Varicose veins can occur in other parts of the body, but people generally seek cosmetic help for vein problems in the legs.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
In additions to the visible enlargement and discoloration, varicose veins can cause heaviness, fatigue, aches in the legs, restlessness in the legs and night cramps. To diagnose varicose veins, the physician will examine the legs visually and take a medical history. A duplex ultrasound test can tell him exactly what is going on in the affected vein.
Treatments for Varicose Veins
Treatments can range from conservative to aggressive. The physician may advise sitting with raised legs to allow the blood to flow back to the heart more easily. He may advise elastic compression stocking that help to squeeze the veins to prevent the backflow of blood. Sclerotherapy uses a chemical injected into the vein to scar the inside that creates a blockage in the vein. Blood then re-directs to other veins. Vein stripping is a surgical procedure that removes a vein to allow the blood flow to other veins in the leg. Ablation procedures use a catheter and electrode to destroy the veins interior walls to close it off, allowing blood to flow through other veins. Laser therapy is also used in a similar way.
2. Spider Veins
In contrast, spider veins are small and appear in clusters on the surface of the legs. They may actually be shaped like a spider or may be branched or linear. They may be blue, purple or red. They generally occur on the ankles, calves and thighs and can begin as early as in your 20s. Heredity, weight gain, hormonal shifts and occupations that require long periods of sitting or standing can contribute to the development of these patches of veins.
Symptoms of Spider Veins
Usually, spider veins are simply an aesthetic problem with no symptoms, but they can cause aching and burning in some people. Duplex ultrasonography tests are painless, take only 20 to 30 minutes and can tell your doctor the condition of the problem veins.
Treatments for Spider Veins
Spider veins are generally treated with sclerotherapy, in which saline or other agents are injected into the vein to transfer blow to other areas. Sometimes, additional treatments are necessary to improve the appearance of the skin. Laser therapy can also be used to block the vein and direct bloodflow to other veins.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms with the vein. A DVT generally occurs in the leg or thigh, but can occur in other areas of the body. A deep vein thrombosis can cause a serious health problem when the blood clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream. It can lodge in the lungs and block blood flow, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can damage lungs or other organs and even cause death.
Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Half of people who experience a deep vein thrombosis will have symptoms. The leg may be swollen along the vein. The patient may experience pain or tenderness in the leg when walking or standing. The skin may show redness or feel warm to the touch. An ultrasound test, MRI or blood tests may also be necessary.
Treatments for Deep Vein Thrombosis
Medications that thin the blood, prevent clotting or dissolve clots may be given for a deep vein thrombosis. Prescription compression stockings are often advised. A vena cava filter may be inserted into the vein to catch the clot so that it cannot travel to other areas of the body.
About this Article: Vein Clinics of Ireland is a professional and courteous service dedicated to the treatment of venous disease. Treatments include VNUS Closure procedure, Ambulatory Phlebectomy, Sclerotherapy and Treating Venous Ulcers.