We all know that veins conduct blood from different parts of our body to the heart. What we don’t know is that varicose veins are swollen, twisted, and sometimes painful veins that have filled with an abnormal collection of blood. This results in unsightly appearance of the skin. In normal veins, valves in the vein keep blood moving forward toward the heart. In varicose veins, the valves do not function properly, allowing blood to remain in the vein. Pooling of blood in a vein causes it to enlarge.
Symptoms include heaviness, aching pain of legs, swelling or brown discoloration or ulcers of the skin at the ankles.
Points to note are:
- Maintain your ideal body weight to reduce excess pressure on your legs, have healthy diet high in fiber and low in fat and salt.
- Avoid alcohol, which can cause the veins in your legs to dilate.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing and excessive heat on your legs. Wear support compression leg stockings.
- Do not cross your legs when sitting.
- If you are working at a desk all day, try to get up and walk around every hour or so to allow the muscles to pump the blood out of the veins, avoiding sitting for extended periods of time. Flexing your ankles periodically will pump the blood out of your legs (simulating walking), so flex them 10 times and repeat every 10 minutes.
- Elevate your legs when possible, keeping your feet positioned higher than heart level.
- Exercise daily. Walking, climbing stairs, cycling and swimming
Treating early symptoms results in an excellent outcome, as untreated Varicose veins usually enlarge and worsen over time leading to severe health problems like blood clots, sores or skin ulcers, spontaneous bleeding, ongoing irritation, swelling and painful rashes of the legs. Your doctor will require a Duplex scan, and treatment options include surgery or Sclerotherapy or Laser ablation or Radiofrequency ablation.
In case a vein ruptures and starts to bleed, immediately elevate your leg and compress the area. Contact your doctor or seek emergency medical care immediately.
Dr.Renny Napoleon, [MBBS, MS, FRCS] is a General Surgery Consultant at Royal Bahrain Hospital. For more information or to book your appointment, call 1724 6800 or plan your visit at www.royalbahrainhospital.com.