What are varices?
Veins are blood vessels, which transport blood from certain parts of the body to the heart. The structure of healthy veins contains very few minuscule muscle tissues. These pieces of muscle tissue block blood from flowing in the opposite direction by creating unidirectional valves, that allow blood flow solely toward the heart. Varicose veins appear when these valves don’t function at optimum capacity, and allow blood to flow in both directions. Consequently veins can dilate, their walls can weaken and lose their elasticity. Varicose veins become elongated, enlarged and visible. Most of the times they are found at the level of the hips, on the calf muscles, and on the popliteal fossa (commonly known as the back side of the knee). These faulty veins cause not only aesthetic issues in case of the inferior limbs due to changes in the color of the skin, but are also responsible for causing feelings of tiredness, heaviness and limb pain.
Factors, that favor the occurrence of varicose diseases:
- standing for long periods of time
- intense and prolonged muscle strain
- excessive humidity and heat
- hormonal imbalance
- localized low limb trauma
- genetic predisposition.
Symptoms and complications of varicose veins
Varicose veins are not merely cosmetic issues to be dealt with lightly. Rather they cause a number of clinical issues as well, which include among others: itching, feeling of weight and heaviness in the lower limbs, oedema, night cramps, paresthesia, burning sensations, restless leg syndrome, intolerance to physical exercise.
The symptoms of varicose disease are less severe in the starting phases of the illness, after which they become ever worse as years pass by and the illness is left untreated. Untreated varicose veins tend to become ever larger in size, and are associated with a series of severe complications, which include the following:
- Deep venous thrombosis: a medical condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins. This condition may cause the onset of pulmonary embolism, which kills a third of all diagnosed patients. Varicose veins are among the leading causes and risk factors of venous thrombosis.
- Chronic venous insufficiency: regular blood flow is affected. The principal causes of this illness are varices and chronic venous insufficiency.
- Varicose ulcer: varices and venous insufficiency may cause damage in the cellular structure of certain surfaces. Ulcer appears when the decomposed skin allows bacteria and air to filter into the tissue. These open wounds form a crust and their surrounding area becomes red and swollen.
- Arteriovenous fistula: it is formed by the rupturing of a varicose element, which leads to massive internal bleeding.