WHY DOES VARICOSE VEINS OCCUR FOR WOMEN AND THE AGED?

February 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Tips for Ayurveda



Many of us have heard women complaining of pain in the legs after standing for long durations at functions or gatherings where we are constantly doing one errand or the other and develop severe pain by the end of the day. The pain is due to varicose veins, a common phenomenon for nurses and people with long standing jobs.

What are Varicose veins?

why does varicose vein occur in women and agedVaricose veins are large, raised, swollen blood vessels that twist and turn. They usually develop in the legs and can be seen through the skin.

But Spider veins are smaller, red, purple, and blue vessels that also twist and turn. Spider veins are easily visible through the skin as well. They are also most often seen on the legs and face.

Varicose veins and spider veins often run in families and there may be a hereditary component.   Women are more likely to suffer from varicose veins and up to 50% of women may be affected. High chances for people above 50 years to get affected by varicose veins due to weakness in valves of veins.

Causes of Varicose Veins

There are a number of factors that influence a person to varicose veins. These include:

  • Prolonged standing – Occupations that involve a lot of standing, such as nurses, hair stylists, teachers, and factory workers.
  • Obesity or bloated belly.
  • Age – Generally, most elderly individuals show some degree of varicose vein occurrence.
  • Hormonal influences during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause.
  • Postmenopausal hormonal replacement or HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).
  • The use of birth control pills.
  • Heredity.
  • A history of blood clots.
  • Conditions that cause increased pressure in the abdomen including tumors, constipation, and externally worn garments.
  • Pregnancy is associated with an increase in blood volume. Also, added pressure on the veins in the legs by the weight of the growing uterus and the relaxation effects of the hormones estrogen and progesterone on the vein walls contribute to the development of varicose veins during pregnancy.
  • Straining: Chronic constipation, urinary retention from an enlarged prostate, chronic cough, or any other conditions that cause a person to strain for prolonged periods of time causes an increase in the forces transmitted to the leg veins and may result in varicose veins. These mechanisms also contribute to the formation of hemorrhoids, which are varicosities located in the rectal and anal area.
  • Prior surgery or trauma to the leg: These conditions interrupt the normal blood flow channels.
  • Defective or damaged valves within the veins  is the main cause. Valves prevent backward flow of blood within the vein. They keep blood in the vein moving towards the heart. Due to poor functioning of valves the blood flow actually reverses and flows down the superficial veins, when it should be flowing up, towards the heart.

Composition of a Varicose Vein

why does varicose vein occur in women and agedVeins are blood vessels that carry deoxygenated blood to the heart (except for pulmonary veins, which transport oxygenated blood). Varicose veins are the result of a breakdown or faulty design of the valve structure within the veins. Folds in the vein’s inner wall form valves that close temporarily after each heartbeat to prevent the blood from flowing backward until the next pump of the heart moves it on. This assists in returning blood to the heart against the pull of gravity. If these valves become weakened and blood does not flow, blood pools in the area and vein walls can ­become swollen and inflamed—the condition known as ­varicose veins.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Individuals experience severe pain, described as an aching or cramping in the legs. Other common symptoms include tiredness, restlessness, burning, inflammation, itchy, or heaviness in the legs.

In women, symptoms may be worse during certain parts of the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy. Patients also may develop swelling, ulcers (deep sores), and an increase in the pigmentation or darkening of the color of their skin, especially in the ankle region.

Occasionally, varicose veins can form a painful blood clot with inflammation of the vein called thrombophlebitis. Rare causes of profuse bleeding from the veins occur due to obstruction of blood flow or superficial injury on the sores in extreme cases.

Preventive measures

It is advised to consult the Medical Practitioner when you feel excess pain and swollen up veins. There are instances where varicose veins spontaneously disappear, but often they do not.  Many treatments are available, so check with your doctor.  The Doctor will guide you on the tips to prevent re-occurrence of varicose veins. Common preventive measures include:

  • Avoid standing in one position for long periods of time.  If it is inevitable that you must stand, prop one foot on a stool for 5 minutes, and then switch legs.  Stand with knees slightly bent, not locked in position.
  • Put your feet up at the end of the day.  Pain caused by varicose veins is usually relieved by elevating the legs. You can elevate your legs by placing a stool during seating positions and place an additional thin pillow to raise your feet approximately 6 inches during bed time. With this height you need not fear about gravity, blood flowing towards the head.
  • Massage your foot .  Pressure from massage facilitates blood away from the feet and legs. Avoid wearing high heeled foot wear as high heels puts additional pressure and minimizes blood flow.
  • Keep your weight down.  It is more difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently when you are overweight. Reduce over weight. Do walking daily at least for 30 mins in the morning.
  • Minimize salt intake: Sodium, or salt, causes swelling in tissue, which can impede blood flow and put strain on leg veins.
  • Avoid alcohol.  Alcohol dilates veins, increasing blood flow to feet and legs.
  • Quit smoking. It may contribute to high blood pressure, which can aggravate varicosity.
  • If you sit for long periods, stand up periodically. The same is true if you stand for long periods, sit periodically. Keep your body constantly changing positions.  Keeping one position for long periods is very demanding on a body.
  • Wear support stockings.  Support hose keeps blood from pooling in feet and legs, and helps the veins return blood back to the heart. These stockings can generally be purchased at any surgical supply store and at some pharmacies.

Simple Exercises to strengthen your legs:

Legs that are exercised are less likely to have varicose veins because they have good circulation.  Perform leg exercises every other day.  Some examples of leg exercises include:

  • Squats:  Slowly lower your rear as if you are going to sit down in a chair.  Make sure your knees are not over your toes when in squat position.  Hold the squat position for three seconds and slowly rise back to standing.  Perform this move until you are unable to perform a squat with proper form.
  • Calf Raises:  With a wall nearby for support, stand with legs straight and slowly raise up onto ball of foot and lower.  For greater intensity, perform on stairs, extending heels below stair level for maximum stretch.  Do as many as you are able until calves are fatigued.  To increase intensity, do calf raises one leg at a time.
  • Leg Lifts:  Sit on floor with legs straight out in front of body.  One leg at a time, raise leg and make small circles with foot and leg, keeping leg straight.  Do ten circles in one direction, and ten in the other.  Switch legs.

Treatment options

The treatment for varicose veins depends on the diagnosis and the severity of the problem for the patient. In few cases Sclerotherapy,  Endovenous Laser Treatment, Radiofrequency Occlusion, Lasers and Intense Pulsed Light and Surgery is recommended.

Surgery is done for individuals with large varicose veins or severe clots. Surgery may be performed using local, spinal, or general anesthesia. Most patients return home the same day as the procedure.

Ayurveda recommends simple home remedies to minimize Varicose veins:

Simple home remedies for you to implement

  • Mix fuller’s earth with water to form a thick paste. Apply this as a pack on your legs and let it remain overnight. This reduces the swelling and pain. Wash away with warm water.
  • Use the herb called marigold . Marigold flower as a compress can be applied over the painful areas. The flowers can be tied around the areas affected. It reduces swelling and pain.why does varicose vein occur in women and aged
  • Mix ten drops of pure essential chamomile oil and four ounces of desired moisturizer cream. Apply this essential oil cream mixture two to three times a day to areas where there are Varicose veins . Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory is used to calm acne, eczema, rashes, dermatitis, dry and itchy skin and other allergic conditions in general.
  • Yoga helps reduce the occurrence – Yogaasanas such as the Sarvangaasana, Halaasana, and Pawan muktaasana series promote circulation and the drainage of blood from the legs.

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