Symptoms and Dangers of Vein Disease
Vein disease, or in medical terms, chronic venous insufficiency, is a condition in which the body’s one-way blood valves (to keep the blood from reversing) stop working as well as they should, and blood pools in the veins and nearby capillaries.
The Center for Disease Control estimates over 900,000 people are affected with some form of thrombophlebitis each year, and 60,000 to 100,000 people die each year of venomous thrombophlebitis. So vein disease is something to take very seriously.
Milligan Vein, a Knoxville vein clinic, offers the following self-assessment questions:
- Do you have leg pain frequently, occasionally or every day?
- Do you have swelling of the legs by morning, afternoon or evening?
- Do you have varicose veins that are visible?
- Have you had major surgery within the last month?
- Did you recently have a baby or are you pregnant now?
- Have you experienced light, moderate, strong or very intense pain with the last 30 days?
Milligan Vein follows up its self-assessment by selecting whether you have a number of abnormal images. It’s a good place to start if you are having vein problems. Not limited to cosmetic issues, your varicose and spider veins can create poor circulation in your legs resulting in that achy, heavy, tired sensation. It is best to be seen by a professional if you have any concerns about your vein problem.
According to John Hopkins on venous disease, over 15 percent of the U.S. population is affected by varicose veins, which tend to not cause too much health problems other than tired legs, swelling, and the occasional burning, but can turn life-threatening when thrombophlebitis, an inflammation of the vein due to a blood clot, occurs.
Guidelineshealth.com, a popular health forum, offers a number of very functional articles, such as “Who is Most at Risk of a Pulmonary Embolism?” and “Tips to Prevent Varicose Veins.”
Besides seeing a doctor or vein specialist for severe problems, consider these steps:
- Wear compression stockings to avoid or minimize varicose veins
- Try not to either sit or stand for a long time. If your work requires it, take frequent breaks
- Exercise, particularly walking or light running, will help avoid vein problems
- Avoid long exposure to the sun, or long, hot baths. These can cause blood to pool in your extremities
- Drink plenty of water, which is important not only for your health but to power circulation of your blood
- Fashion can count. High heels compress the legs, and so do tight jeans. Minimize where possible
- Elevate your legs as often as possible. Fifteen minutes a day of having your legs elevated over your heart can work wonders
- Eating a high-fiber, low salt diet can also help
People who have had major surgery recently and women who are pregnant or who recently gave birth are very prone to blood clots, which form in their legs and break off and travel to their lungs.
So at the first sign of strong or unusual pain, be sure and see a doctor. Besides pregnancy and recent surgery, other causes of blood clots include:
- Being older than 65
- Taking hormones, particularly birth control hormones
- Had or are being treated for cancer
- Are highly obese
- Are confined to a bed or are paralyzed
- Have had a blood clot before or had a family member who had one
Treatment for Vein Problems
Severe, deep-vein thrombophlebitis is most often treated by special blood thinners or in severe case, clot-destroying drugs. For lesser vein disease problems, as mentioned, compression stockings are often prescribed, elevating the feet, as well as a number of medical procedures using lasers, injectable foam, and ultrasound to treat vein disease.
Who Treats Vein Disease
Vascular medicine specialists and vascular surgeons are the doctors you will want to see if you are having severe vein problems.
Normally, a vascular medicine specialist will use a special form of ultrasound to diagnose your problem and recommend solutions, which, in addition to compression stockings, exercise, etc., may include surgery to actually close a vein off, rerouting the path of blood through other veins.