People associate varicose veins with the elderly. Not true. Even young women (and men) can be afflicted by these.
What are varicose veins?
Veins contain valves, which shut off to prevent the backflow of blood. When these valves malfunction, a pool of blood collects, weakening the walls of the vessel, which, after a time, balloon out and appear swollen. The veins at the back of the knees and legs are often affected. This condition tends to run in families.
Sometimes the blood in the veins may clot, especially if there is a superficial injury or skin infection. Women on the oral contraceptive pill and smokers are particularly at risk.
Read: Office strolls restore blood flow to the legs
Symptoms of varicose veins
- Swelling of the ankles
- Aching in the legs at the end of the day
- Episodes of thrombosis
- Eczema of the overlying skin
- Ulceration of the skin in severe cases
What your doctor can do for you
- Operate to tie off and remove the worst of the veins
- Inject fluid to shrink the worst of the veins
- Recommend support stockings
- Treat varicose ulcers
Read: What are varicose veins?
What you can do for yourself
There is much you can do, says Dr Alan Stewart, Head of the Women’s Nutritional Advisory Service in the UK.
- Try and avoid standing for lengthy periods of time
- Eat as little salt as possible
- Lose weight if you need to
- Put your legs up as often as possible to let the fluid drain away from the varicose vein
- Take multivitamins if you have leg ulcers as this may aid the healing process
When varicose veins could be a sign of something serious
Lasers repair varicose veins
Which varicose vein treatment is best?