What Are Varicose Veins?
Over time, the valves in your veins can become weak and do not function as well as they used to. Standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body and can lead to these changes. Sometimes varicose veins can be painless (asymptomatic), and only look different. In some cases, varicose veins are painful (symptomatic) and can cause a heavy achy feeling in your legs, burning, throbbing, muscle cramping, swelling, or itching around your veins.
Risk Factors for Developing Varicose Veins
- Age: The risk of varicose veins increases with age. Aging causes wear and tear on the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow. Eventually, that wear causes the valves to allow some blood to flow back into your veins where it collects instead of flowing up to your heart.
- Sex: Women are more likely to develop the condition. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, pre-menstruation, or menopause may be a factor because female hormones tend to relax vein walls. Taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills may increase your risk of varicose veins.
- Family History: If other family members have varicose veins, there’s a greater chance you will too.
- Obesity: Being overweight puts added pressure on your veins.
- Standing or Sitting for Long Periods of Time: Your blood doesn’t flow as well if you’re in the same position for long periods.