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August 13, 2019

Everything you need to know about varicose veins

The embarrassing sign of aging affects up to 35 percent of Americans

Women's Health Cardiovascular
Varicose Veins Wiki 08122019 Nini00/Via Flickr (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Varicose veins in the legs.

As women get older, one of the most common, but still embarrassing signs of aging is varicose veins. The Mayo Clinic describes them as “twisted, enlarged veins” that occur most often in the legs. Men can experience them, too, but it is a lot more rare.

According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, “varicose veins can occur in almost anyone and affect up to 35 percent of people in the United States.”

Women, especially those with more than one child, and obese people, have a higher risk of developing them.

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The intricate web of red or bluish veins just beneath the skin are often referred to as “spider veins.” They are more of a nuisance than a medical concern. But when varicose veins become really enlarged and/or cause pain and/or discomfort, they should be checked out by a doctor who will monitor you for complications like ulcers, blood clots and bleeding.

Symptoms to watch out for include bulging veins that are dark purple or blue in color, pain in your legs especially after sitting or standing for a long time, and itching or skin discoloration near the vein.

Why do they occur? Sometimes the valve in a vein will become weak or damaged causing blood to build up. For more serious cases of varicose veins, your doctor may suggest “a procedure to remove or close varicose veins, compression therapy, or medicines.”

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely prevent varicose veins, though lifestyle changes can help: (Sources include The Mayo Clinic, the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute and Johns Hopkins Medicine)

• Regular exercise

• Maintain a healthy weight

• Avoid sitting or standing in one position for too long

• Avoid eating too much salt

• Cut back on how long you wear high heels or tight clothing

If you have any concerns about your varicose veins, talk to your primary doctor as soon as possible. If you experience symptoms of a blood clot, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.

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