What Are the Hidden Dangers of Varicose Veins?

March 8, 2016
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We all know about heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These are no longer silent killers hiding in the shadows. They are well-known and dangerous killers. But that doesn’t mean we have ferreted out all the dangers gunning for us in the dark recesses of our bodies. The list of silent killers is long and varied. Issues with our veins are the latest to get the spotlight.

We all know about heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These are no longer silent killers hiding in the shadows. They are well-known and dangerous killers. But that doesn’t mean we have ferreted out all the dangers gunning for us in the dark recesses of our bodies. The list of silent killers is long and varied. Issues with our veins are the latest to get the spotlight.

In a sense, all vein problems are hidden dangers. That is because these problems are largely unknown to the general public. Until recently, we believed that the #1 cause of preventable deaths in hospitals was infection. It turns out that has not been true for some time. The leading cause is venous thromboembolism (VTE). According to The Motley Fool:

A study in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report examined VTEs between 2007 and 2009 and found that there were 547,596 instances over the given time period. An even scarier study from the American Heart Association estimates 900,000 cases of VTE occur annually, leading to some 300,000 deaths!

One of the most common and well-known venous problems is varicose veins. Most people just think of it as a cosmetic issue for the elderly. That description doesn’t even scratch the surface. Here is what you need to know about varicose veins, and the hidden dangers associated with them.

It Is Not Just Cosmetic

The problem with varicose veins is not a simple matter of cosmetics. Although, if your legs were unsightly to the point of disfigurement, you would probably not be dismissive of cosmetic issues. To the extent that it is a cosmetic issue, it’s a big one. It just happens to be so much more. The experts at Intermountain Vein Center of Utah had this to say:

Bulging Varicose VeinsVaricose veins are dilated, twisting and bulging veins. Symptoms include aching, swelling, itching and heaviness in the leg. Varicose veins make it difficult to stand, walk, work and participate in your favorite activities. Left untreated they can become a serious medical condition and may cause blood clots, skin ulcerations, bleeding and skin pigment changes.

When you see someone suffering from varicose veins, you should know that the suffering is much more than skin deep.

There Can Be Deadly Consequences

A varicose vein is a weakened, twisted, swollen vein that pools with blood. These veins are mostly found in the legs, but can be other places. A hemorrhoid is a type of varicose vein. These clots that are close to the skin can move into a deep vein. This is what we call deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

DVT can break loose and travel through the blood stream, making its way to the lungs, thus causing pulmonary embolism. Sudden death is sometimes the result of this condition. It all starts with a varicose veins.

A More Challenging Life

Varicose veins do not just affect how you look. They affect how you live. The Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms as follows:

  • An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
  • Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
  • Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
  • Itching around one or more of your veins
  • Bleeding from varicose veins
  • A painful cord in the vein with red discoloration of the skin
  • Color changes, hardening of the vein, inflammation of the skin or skin ulcers near your ankle, which can mean you have a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention

It doesn’t require much imagination to see how these symptoms can greatly curtail one’s ability to pursue happiness. Whether work or play, the sufferer is limited by varying degrees of pain and incapacity.

Treatments and procedures are available to reduce the symptoms or remove varicose veins altogether. Less drastic treatments include compressions stockings, weight loss, and exercise.

Life is full of hidden dangers. Those dangers are lessened when we are able to shine the spotlight on them. Varicose veins have hidden in the shadows far too long. If you experience symptoms of a venous issue, see your doctor right away.