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Causes of Varicose Veins

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: lrohner • updated: 10/25/2010

The weakening of the valves inside the veins are mostly what causes varicose veins to form. Weak valves often slows down blood circulation, causing the blood to pool in the area of the affected vein, leading to engorgement and swelling of the vein near the surface of the skin.

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    Roughly 50 percent of people above 50 years old may suffer from varicose veins. This condition is also more prevalent in women than in men. Affected women are often conscious of their presence and frequently seek some ways on how to minimize their appearance. Those not affected are also taking measures to prevent its development. So what are they really and what causes varicose veins to form in the legs and in the ankles?

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    About Varicose Veins and its Causes

    Varicose veins are veins which have become enlarged due to the weakening of the veins and the valves in these veins. Weakening of veins and valves can be hereditary, and is often passed on from one generation to the next. Aging is also a cause for this condition.

    Other possible causes for varicose vein development include pregnancy, being overweight and extended periods of time standing up. Anything that can weaken or interrupt the blood flow in the veins or valves in the legs is a possible cause for its development. Varicose veins may also be caused by blockages in the leg's deeper veins. This blockage is called deep vein thrombosis.

    The presence of valves in the veins often ensure that blood going to the heart flows in one direction. When these valves become weak and do not close or open appropriately, blood circulation slows down and may pool in the affected area. Pressure then builds up resulting in a swollen or enlarged vein. These varicose veins then become visible as they are most often located near the skin surface.

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    Problems with Varicose Veins

    Varicose veins are not just an aesthetic problem. They can also lead to swelling of the ankles or feet, an itching or burning sensation and skin color changes of the affected limb. Some individuals may also experience tiredness, leg pains and dry skin. It can also result in bleeding easily even with the most minor injuries. Not all people who have varicose veins may have these complications, but they may still be prone to them if the condition becomes worse.

    Knowing what causes varicose veins can frequently help one prevent its development. Some factors, such as heredity and aging, cannot be changed. But there are measures which can help prevent varicose veins from forming or when they are already present, to prevent some more from developing. These preventive measures are often focused on improving blood circulation in the legs and feet, and in toning the muscles in the area. Examples are doing regular exercises, losing excess weight, eating healthy and avoiding use of high heels. Elevating the feet and not staying in a standing position for longer periods are also encouraged. When severe, physicians can also advise varicose vein treatment procedures to be done.

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    Mayo Clinic: Varicose Veins,

    MedlinePlus: Varicose Veins,

    WebMD: Varicose Veins - Topic Overview,