Are Varicose Veins Dangerous? Benign vs Serious Signs Explained

Are varicose veins dangerous? The truth is it depends. Read here to learn how to differentiate between benign and serious signs.

Did you know that about 23% of American adults have varicose veins? Even so, there is still a lot of misinformation about the condition out there.

Not knowing what it is, what causes it, or what you can do about it makes you more susceptible to potential varicose vein pain and discomfort. This is because there are specific lifestyle choices that may actually increase your chances of getting varicose veins.

Are varicose veins dangerous, and if so, what can you do to protect yourself? If you’re already dealing with these pesky veins, do you need to see a doctor?

Keep reading to learn more about varicose veins and what you should know.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted inside the body. Generally, the veins that are impacted are in the legs because standing and walking around create increased pressure in the veins that are lower in the body. Even so, however, any veins can become varicose over time. 

Spider veins are a milder type of varicose veins that also cause some concern for people. In general, spider and varicose veins are mostly a cosmetic concern versus a medical concern. There are situations, however, in which varicose veins can become a more serious issue, which we will discuss below.

The Symptoms to Look Out For

Varicose veins are usually noticed due to their appearance. A varicose vein is darker in color than other veins and will typically appear much wider or thicker under the skin. You may also notice that the vein is bulging slightly so that it creates a bump that you can see and feel by touch.

Varicose veins are usually blue or purple, and spider veins are usually red or blue. 

You may also experience unpleasant symptoms with varicose veins. These could include:

  • Aching, burning, or throbbing pain
  • Swelling and muscle cramping
  • Increased pain from sitting or standing for a long period
  • Skin discoloration
  • Itchy skin near the vein

Benign or Serious: Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?

If you’re not experiencing any soreness or distress due to the varicose veins, you likely are only experiencing benign symptoms. Varicose veins are not harmful if they are not causing any medical concerns.

However, if you have any of the physical symptoms that we described above, such as swelling, itchiness, or aching pain, this can mean that you are dealing with a more serious concern than just a cosmetic issue.

Chronic venous insufficiency is a similar condition to varicose veins, but it causes blood to pool in both superficial and deep veins. This is caused by abnormally high blood pressure. To get a venous insufficiency diagnosis, you’ll need to speak with a medical professional. 

Any time you are experiencing physical concerns related to your veins, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can run additional tests to be sure that other medical conditions are not contributing to your discomfort. 

There are complications that can arise if you have varicose veins or other vein conditions. These include bleeding, ulcers, or clots. These are rare, but if you notice any signs of the vein bursting or blood clots/ulcers, you should see a doctor immediately. 

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are caused by pressure in the veins that are close to the skin’s surface. There are one-way valves within the veins that allow the blood to move through the body, but when these valves get damaged or weakened by the increase in blood pressure, the blood will start to collect in the veins instead of travel through. 

This collection of the blood is what makes the veins twist and become enlarged, resulting in varicose veins that appear stretched. 

Risk Factors to Consider

Women are more likely than men to get varicose veins. In addition to that, people that are older will have an increased chance of varicose veins as their veins have had more wear and tear over the years (creating weaker valves).

Pregnant women have a higher volume of blood, which is also something that can increase the likelihood of this condition. A family history of varicose veins and obesity are also both risk factors.

Lastly, if you sit or stand for long periods at a time, you’re also increasing your chances of getting varicose veins later. Periodically sitting and standing will help increase your blood flow and work to prevent blood pooling in the veins.

How to Treat Varicose Veins

You can usually treat varicose veins at home with self-care. Doing regular exercise routines and wearing compression clothing usually will help to ease any pain that you might have. In addition to this, you can regularly elevate your legs to prevent the veins from worsening over time.

If your self-care measures don’t seem to be helpful or you want to reduce their appearance, it’s important to speak with a medical professional about your concerns. There are additional treatments that can be done, such as laser treatment or vein surgery, depending on your specific situation.

Keep Yourself Safe With a Varicose Vein Pro

Are varicose veins dangerous by default? The answer is no, but if you find yourself dealing with symptoms that lead to pain or worry, you may be developing other issues that warrant a visit to the doctor.

Now that you have a better idea about what varicose veins are and how they happen, you can better protect yourself from them by getting enough exercise, keeping your blood pressure low, and leading a healthy lifestyle.

If you found this article useful, take a moment to look at our other health-related content next. 

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