Are you noticing swollen, purple or blue-ish veins against your calves or inner legs? You’re not alone. About 20% of adults develop varicose veins at some point in their lives.
Spotting the early warning signs of vein disease can help you request treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you start treatment, the more likely you can avoid serious complications. Some patients experience ulcers, major swelling, bleeding, and rashes without treatment.
Here are the early warning signs and risk factors of vein disease you need to learn to prepare yourself!
Types of Vein Disorders
There are a few different types of vein disorders that could damage your veins. These include:
Superficial venous thrombosis is a blood clot that forms close to the surface of your skin. This type of blood clot can become painful in time.
Varicose and spider veins cause your blood vessels to appear dilated and abnormal. This usually occurs as your blood vessel wall weakens over time.
Blood clots can affect your legs, arms, and veins throughout your internal organs. You can also develop a blood clot in the brain, kidneys, or lungs.
Deep vein thrombosis affects over 900,000 Americans annually. This type of vein disease causes a clot to occur in a deep vein in the arms or legs. The condition itself isn’t life-threatening.
However, a blood clot could break free, travel through your bloodstream, and become lodged in a blood vessel. The blood clot could then cause a pulmonary embolism, which is life-threatening.
Early Warning Signs
Though there are different types of vein disorders you might develop, many vein disease symptoms overlap.
For example, you might notice aches and pains shoot over your legs as you walk. Some people also experience cramping after physical activity. Make sure to keep a record of your symptoms to discuss them with your doctor.
Many patients also notice their ankles and feet appeared swollen after a busy day. Do you notice swelling regularly? If you begin experiencing this early warning sign of vein disease, you might want to speak with a doctor.
Take the time to look at your lower legs for other vein disease symptoms. For example, you might notice red spots along your lower legs. This symptom might indicate the blood vessels in your legs have started to weaken.
If you notice these spots on your lower legs, it could also indicate your blood vessels have burst.
Some patients also notice their legs appear unnaturally shiny. Is there an unnatural pigmentation on the surface of your skin? Has your skin started to peel or does it feel itchy?
Make sure to speak to your doctor if you begin experiencing these symptoms.
These early vein disease symptoms could lead to more severe symptoms, including:
Lower leg ulcerations
Dry, scaly skin (eczema)
Skin pigment alterations (discoloration)
Hardening of your skin (fibrosis)
In some cases, your vein disease symptoms could lead to deep vein thrombosis. Remember, deep vein thrombosis can lead to a pulmonary embolism. If a blood clot starts to travel through your body, it could reach your lungs and become fatal.
Here are a few symptoms of pulmonary embolism to keep an eye out for:
A ramped-up heart rate
Coughing up blood
Shortness of breath
Remember, a pulmonary embolism is life-threatening. Don’t wait to see medical attention. Instead, contact a doctor as soon as possible.
Learning how to manage your vein disease can reduce your risk of these complications.
There are a few risk factors that can increase your chances of developing these different types of vein disease.
For starters, review your family history to determine if any relatives have developed vein disease symptoms in the past. If a family member experiences these symptoms, there’s a chance you will as well.
Do you have a job that requires you to remain sedentary for long periods of time? Sitting or standing in the same position over time and put unnecessary pressure on your veins. This could cause blood flow to slow.
In time, the pressure on your veins could weaken valves. Then, varicose veins could form.
You’re also likely to put unnecessary pressure on your veins if you’re overweight or obese. As a result, your veins will get weaker, increasing your chase of developing varicose veins.
Your risk of a vein disease also increases as you get older. It’s common for the valves that control your blood flow to weaken over time. This could further increase your chase of vein disease.
First, your doctor will complete a visual exam to determine if you’re experiencing any of the vein disease symptoms mentioned above. They’ll likely use a diagnostic test to check your veins’ blood flow. For example, they might recommend an ultrasound.
Once your doctor diagnoses you with a specific vein disease, they’ll use preventative forms of treatment to keep minimize future symptoms.
For example, let’s say you’re diagnosed with varicose veins. Your doctor might start you with conservative treatment that includes lifestyle changes. If you’re overweight, your doctor might recommend you lose weight and change your diet.
You can also improve blood flow in your legs by elevating them. Wearing compression socks can help, too.
Otherwise, you might need surgery to remove or close any varicose veins in your legs.
Recognizing your vein disease symptoms and undergone treatment early can help reduce your pain. It can also keep your symptoms from limiting your mobility. By speaking with a knowledgeable expert, you can receive an early diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible.
Spot the Signs: Understanding the Early Warnings Signs of Vein Disease
Don’t wait to request treatment for your vein disease. Instead, keep an eye out for these early warning signs and minimize your risk. If you’re still worried, schedule an appointment with a vein expert.
Remember, early treatment can help reduce your pain to keep you happy and healthy.
Mrs. Paige Bourbeau, ARNP is a distinguished graduate of the University of South Florida's Masters of Science in Nursing program from 2012. As one of the top achievers in her class, she was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society and recognized by the American College of Phlebology for her expertise in treating venous insufficiency.