Varicose veins are enlarged veins close to the skin's surface. Varicose vein appear as bulges in the skin and can cause embarrassment and physical pain, as well as minor to serious medical problems. Varicose veins look twisted and purple or blue, and they're raised, which means they look like they're sitting on top of the skin. They can be tender and painful, especially after sitting or standing still for a long time. People who have varicose veins might also have achy legs that feel heavy.
Some common symptoms of varicose veins include:
- Aching pain that may get worse after sitting or standing for a long time
- Throbbing or cramping
- Rash that's itchy or irritated
- Restless feelings
Large varicose veins may sometimes need to be surgically removed. Varicose vein surgery is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, which means that you will be unconscious during the procedure. You will usually be able to go home the same day. However, in some cases an overnight stay in hospital may be necessary, particularly if you are having surgery on both legs.
A Doppler test. This is an ultrasound technique that uses sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your leg. It will give your doctor information about the direction of blood flow in your vein and whether your valves are working properly. Your doctor may diagnose your varicose veins based on a physical exam. Your doctor will look at your legs while you're standing or sitting with your legs dangling. He or she may ask you about your symptoms, including any pain you're having. Sometimes, you may have other tests to find out the extent of the problem and to rule out other disorders.
Some of the preventive measures are:
- exercise: walking is a great way to increase blood flow in the legs
- lose weight: shedding excess pounds takes unnecessary pressure off veins in the legs
- wear compression stockings
- avoid high heels: stick with low-heeled shoes that give the calf muscles a better workout, which can help give you healthier veins
- elevate legs: take 3 or 4 daily breaks (10 to 15 minutes) to elevate the legs above the level of the heart (e.g., lie down with legs resting on 3 or 4 pillows).
- avoid long periods of sitting or standing: make a point to change position frequently to encourage blood flow.
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