Medical Minute: Varicose Veins

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MINOT, N.D. - Standing up for long periods of time everyday is not only tiring, but it can cause damage to your legs. In this week's medical minute, we take a look at what doctors call varicose veins.

We're all born with veins serving the function of transporting blood, but problems can occur when these normal veins become abnormal in terms of size.

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that plump when blood becomes stagnant. For the most part they're caused by constantly standing- increasing the pressure in leg veins.

It's also associated with family history, history of blood clots, being overweight and smoking.

"That leads to a build of pressure in the vein and it's just like a balloon, you blow in a balloon the balloon is going to get bigger, so with time that kind of makes it worse," said Emad Dodin, Trinity Hospital interventional cardiologist.

Symptoms include pain, discolored or hardened skin, itching, swelling, and heaviness.

While varicose veins have been associated with age, that isn't necessarily the case.

"But this type of disease specifically doesn't need you to be old even though the older you get the higher the incidents but it can start at a young age especially if you have a profession. The earlier is starts the worst of a problem it is," said Dr. Dodin.

If not treated early the varicose veins can result in skin ulcers, disfigurement, bleeding, and pain. They can also lead to chronic venous disease, a leg ulcer that can take four to six weeks to heal.

"This is a significant disease that can progress to a stage where it would be very difficult to treat, so if people present in the early stages that certainly can be treatable," said Dr. Dodin.

You can try to prevent getting varicose veins by maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and regularly walking.

"The way the body protects itself from venous disease and stagnation is to squeeze the blood and send it back to our body and that is achieved by the muscle contracting," said Dr. Dodin.

So to keep your legs fine and healthy you have to stay healthy.

To find out more about varicose veins and how to treat it you can contact your health care provider.