The circulatory system could be compared to a big city's freeways, where the streaming cars, in this case the frenetic blood cells, are delivering oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body. The pumping heart maintains the pulse of the "traffic" by pushing the blood cells through the arteries to their organ and cell destinations.

About 25 percent of women will be affected by varicose veins.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
About 25 percent of women are affected
by varicose veins; about 10 percent of
men will suffer from this problem.

On the cells' return trip to the heart and lungs, the flow of traffic is not always quite so smooth, and congestion can take a toll on the roadway of veins. For one thing, the pressure, caused by the pumping heart, that keeps the blood moving is decreased. For another, the veins below the heart, in the legs and torso, must work against gravity, as the blood makes its way up from the feet.

So these vessels depend more on the leg muscles to help pump the blood back to the heart. The veins also contain special one-way valves that aid the return of blood to the heart and lungs. The valves work like locks in a canal. As blood flows through a valve, its "doors" slam shut so the blood can't flow backward.

When any one of these valves fails, blood can seep back down and begin to pool, often in the lower legs. The extra pressure from the increased volume of pooling blood can, over time, cause additional valves to fail. Eventually, the pressure from the pooling blood can cause the vein's walls to bulge and become misshapen. At this point, the vein may show through the skin surface, looking knotty, bumpy, and gnarled and taking on a dark blue or purple hue.

The swollen and twisted -- or varicose -- veins can be more than a cosmetic problem, however. They may also cause aching, throbbing, or burning pain; a feeling of heaviness in the lower leg; swelling around the ankles; and even itchiness, all of which tend to be more pronounced after prolonged sitting or standing. In some cases, varicose veins may signal a more serious underlying problem with circulation or can be associated with potentially serious blood clots. And if varicose veins are accompanied by ulcers of the skin near the ankle or sudden swelling of the leg, they require immediate medical attention.

It's estimated that 25 percent of all women and 10 percent of all men are affected by varicose veins. And there are medical and surgical treatments available to deflate or remove them. But there are also home remedies to prevent or, at the very least, postpone, their development; decrease their severity; and ease some of the discomfort they can cause. See the next section to find out how.

The Dangers of Blood Clots
Though thankfully rare, clots can form in varicose veins. Thrombophlebitis, the inflammation of a vein caused by a clot, can be potentially dangerous if the clot begins to travel through the veins. The traveling clot, then called an embolism, can end up blocking part of the blood flow in the heart or lungs.

If the clot forms in what's called the superficial venous system, you may feel pain and tenderness, and the skin on your leg may turn red. If the clot forms in what's known as the deep venous system, you won't be able to see the clot, but you may have swelling and tenderness in all or part of either leg. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor.

Some of the best measures to help prevent clotting: Keep active; maintain a desirable weight; and take breaks from sitting, especially on long car and plane rides and during long hours of sitting at home or at work.

For more information about varicose veins and how to prevent them, try the following links:
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

 

 

 

 

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