Fluid retention and varicose veins are both common problems, particularly for women in the middle to later years of life. Are the conditions serious and is there a link between them? The answers to those questions will depend on the individual’s symptoms and other factors. However, there are a few basic facts about water retention and varicose veins the staff at Incredible Veins Skin & Body want you to know.
What is Water Retention?
As much as 70 percent of the human body consists of water, which is regulated by hormones and hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins. When fluid levels become too high, the kidneys are generally equipped to resolve the elevated levels by removing the excess fluid in the form of urine. When fluid levels increase and the problem is not naturally corrected by the body, water retention can result.
Water retention can lead to swelling in many different areas of the body, most frequently in the lower legs, ankles and feet. Swelling can also occur in the hands, face and even around the eyes. Most cases of water retention will resolve on their own within a matter of hours or sometimes days. However, water retention that is long-lasting or recurring could indicate a more serious underlying medical condition.
Causes of Water Retention
Many factors can lead to water retention:
- Hormonal imbalances, often due to malfunction of the thyroid gland
- Oral hormones, such as birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
- Damage or diseases of the heart, kidneys or liver
- Malfunctions of the lymphatic system
- Problems with the circulatory system, including varicose veins
- Increased weight, particularly when caused by poor diet and sedentary lifestyle
Your diet can also have a direct impact on your body’s tendency to retain water. Diets that are especially high in sodium or low in potassium are the primary culprits in this issue.
The Varicose Vein Risk
While varicose veins can raise the risk for water retention, water retention can also increase your likelihood of developing varicose veins. Extra fluid in the body increases the pressure of blood circulating through the veins. This increased pressure puts undue strain on the vessels, particularly those in the lower legs already tasked with the difficult job of pushing blood against gravity back to the heart.
When the veins in the lower legs have to work even harder to move blood through, they can become damaged. Specifically, small valves inside the vessels, which are responsible for keeping blood moving in a uniform direction, can become damaged or wear out from the increased pressure. When these valves fail to function properly, blood can pool inside the vein leading to swelling of the vein and varicosity.
Varicose Vein Treatment
Bulging, protruding varicose veins can become more than a cosmetic nuisance. For some sufferers, these swollen vessels can lead to painful symptoms including heaviness in the legs after activity, leg cramping and persistent aching. This can be particularly true if the water retention maintains the increased pressure inside those damaged veins. The symptoms may even become pronounced enough to keep you from enjoying certain activities.
If you are suffering with varicose veins due to water retention, help is available. Non-surgical treatments can now eliminate varicose veins with minimal discomfort and downtime. Treatment of the vessels also eliminates painful symptoms and can make it easier to address the water retention as well. To learn more about your options in vein treatments, contact Incredible Veins Skin & Body at 818-446-2995.