Vein weakness (venous insufficiency)
The clue is in the name: with vein weakness the veins are simply not strong enough to pump your blood from your legs back up towards your heart. If this weakness permanently exists, there is a risk of other vein diseases, such as varicose veins or even thrombosis.
What is vein weakness?
What causes vein weakness?
The predisposition to vein weakness is usually genetic. People who have inherited weak connective tissue from their parents usually also develop venous disorders during their life. There is, however, a whole range of risk factors which encourage vein weakness.
- Inactivity: people who sit, lie or stand for long periods do not do their veins any favours. Because it is only by moving that blood can be pumped back to the heart and the flow of blood can be kept moving. That is why you should integrate regular exercise breaks, take a stroll and do some sport as often as possible!
- Functional disorder of the venous valves: the venous valves are responsible for preventing the blood which has been pumped upwards from dropping back down again. If there is a functional disorder with this, your blood builds up in your veins and cannot be sufficiently transported upwards by the muscle pump.
- Age: the risk of venous disorders increases from age 30 onwards. That is why it is extremely important to support the health of your veins from early on.
- Hormonal changes: women are affected by venous disorders significantly more than men are. On the one hand, that is due to the specific structure of the connective tissue, on the other, due to hormonal swings which women undergo during puberty, pregnancy and the menopause.
- Excess weight: excess body weight has an effect on blood flow. This is because when you are overweight, your blood flows more slowly through your veins. With it grows the risk of thrombosis. In addition to that, excess weight is one of the most common causes of other vessel and cardiovascular diseases.
How does vein weakness manifest itself?
Depending on the manifestation of the venous insufficiency, the symptoms can be light and hardly affect your day-to-day life. In the advanced stage painful, swollen legs cause severe problems. Indications of venous insufficiency can be:
- Heavy legs
- Swollen legs and feet
- Water retention (oedemas) in legs and feet
- Painful legs and feet
- Skin changes, itching
- Spider veins
- Protruding veins, particularly at the hollows of the knee, calves and lower legs
- Varicose veins
The symptoms usually intensify during the day, because your blood builds up in your legs due to standing or sitting at home or at work. Warmth and heat in summer cause discomfort to the afflicted because the blood vessels expand due to the high temperatures and intensify the build-up of blood.
How dangerous is vein weakness?
At first, slight venous insufficiency is no reason to panic. But in the long run, the insufficient blood circulation can cause various venous disorders, which then need a therapy. This is because venous insufficiency is often the basis for spider veins and varicose veins.
In the worst case, vein thrombosis can develop, which can lead to pulmonary embolism. That is why it is even more important to support the functionality of your veins from early on.
What can I do against vein weakness?
If your legs have painful swellings, what usually helps is to cool them and put them up to clear the build-up of blood. In the long term, you should strengthen your veins in order to prevent the development of further venous disorders or at least to delay it.
- Movement: nothing supports vein functionality like regular movement. Going upstairs, walking, cycling, swimming or simply some foot gymnastics several times a day stimulate circulation.
- Compression therapy: wearing compression stockings is usually a part of the therapy and supports vein function with the external pressure. A compression bandage also helps with acute problems.
- Medicines: diuretic medicines can counteract water depositions in tissue. Also, regularly taking oedema protective agents with the active ingredient Troxerutin, such as Veno SL® 300 (Mandatory information – in German), prevents the accumulation of fluids and at the same time supports circulation. Creams and ointments can alleviate eczema on your skin.
- Remove varicose veins: varicose veins encourage the build-up of blood and therefore also the symptoms. So take advice from a vein specialist, also called a phlebologist, as to whether it makes sense to have your varicose veins removed.
Get used to a healthy lifestyle so that your veins remain elastic and functional for a long time. That includes a vitamin-rich, balanced diet, sufficient sleep, drinking lots and abstaining from cigarettes and alcohol.