Varicose Veins – Causes

123_Varices_2There are multiple causes for varicose veins and it is wrong to think that this is solely a condition of old age. Varicose veins can often run in families but they are also a common affliction of shop workers and bar staff as they can be caused by standing up for extended periods of time.

It can also be an unwelcome side effect of pregnancy due to increased blood volume and the relaxation of vein muscle walls as a consequence of hormonal changes.

In order to force blood back to the heart, our veins have a series of valves that act as a one way door that prevent the blood from responding to gravity and flowing back towards the ground to pool in our lower extremities.

A varicose vein is caused when one of these valves fails, causing the blood to flow back and causing the vein walls to be stretched out of shape. This occurs in the superficial veins near the surface of the skin which are the unsightly dark lumps and bumps that we associate with the condition.

There are a number of factors that can increase your likelihood of developing varicose veins:

1) You are a woman

Statistically, women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men, this is thought to be brought about by the muscle relaxing properties of female hormones. These hormones make the vein walls more likely to stretch.

2) You work in retail or catering

Chefs, waiters, bar staff and shop workers often describe varicose veins as an occupational hazard and can significantly increase the risk of developing the condition.

The main common factor to all of these professions is the need to spend significant amounts of time standing up which can have a negative impact on how efficiently your circulation works.

3) Other family members have developed them

It is believed that variances in genetic makeup can tend some families towards developing varicose veins.

4) You are overweight

Excess weight makes it more difficult to your blood to circulate properly and increases the pressure on the veins which makes it much more likely that the veins will leak.

It is also possible that you have higher blood pressure which also contributes towards stretching the veins and damaging the valves that are critical to preventing varicose veins.

5) You are pregnant

As previously mentioned, varicose veins are a common side effect of pregnancy for a variety of reasons. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the body increases to support the growth of the baby which places inevitable additional strain on the circulatory system.

Secondly the heightened levels of oestrogen and progesterone cause the muscle walls to relax, making the veins more likely to leak. Finally around the 13th or 14th week of pregnancy, the weight increase that is part and parcel of having a baby will again increase your chances of developing varicose veins.

6) You are inactive

Regular exercise is believed to be a significant factor in keeping varicose veins at bay as having a strong circulatory system prevents the pooling that leads to varicose veins.

Some of the causes of varicose veins lie outside a person’s control, however, like with so many other conditions, maintaining a healthy weight and staying active can have a genuine preventative effect.

For more information on how to tackle varicose veins, click here!