Despite the common belief, varicose veins, or varicosities, is not a disease, but rather one of the symptoms of a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Coincidentally, while people suffering from CVI always have varicose veins, rarely are they seen by the naked eye. In other words, it resembles many other diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, or elevated cholesterol, that usually have no visible symptoms.
Another important consideration is the fact that not any bulging vein is the varicose one. CVI elevates venous blood pressure, leading to the formation of varicosities. As pressure of the blood goes up, the veins are stretched not only across, becoming wider, but also along, becoming longer. It means that any visible bulging vein, which is straight, is normal, and often a sign of being in good shape. While bulging, or even flat, vein with twists, kinks, and curves is the pathological one.
Our circulation is more comparable to a tree rather than a network of blood vessels. While CVI is the root of the venous tree, the varicose veins represent its major branches. Spider veins, or telangiectasia, being another symptom of CVI, are comparable to branches of varicosities.
Just like with any other disease, it is almost always wrong to treat a symptom. It is essential to establish a diagnosis first and treat a disease. For example, if a headache is caused by elevated blood pressure, any painkiller might take care of it without, however, affecting underlying hypertension. Untreated hypertension, in turn, can lead to serious complications, including heart failure or stroke. Treating the primary diagnosis, hypertension, will not only eliminate the headache, but also prevent its complications.
Similarly, if varicose veins are of concern, underlying CVI should be searched for and treated. This will not only eradicate varicosities and other symptoms of CVI, but also prevent its further progression, leading eventually to complications, such as blood clots, bleeding, infection, and trophic ulcers.
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