Varicose Veins versus Spider Veins

When it comes to the body, veins have an important role. But what is the role of those veins that we begin to see through the skin as we get older? Let’s take a look at varicose veins and spider veins.


The function of veins is to return blood from the extremities to the heart and then to the lungs where it receives more oxygen and gets rid of waste products and begins the cycle again. Veins contain valves so that blood cannot flow backwards. It is already going against gravity to move back towards the heart in the first place.

When there are problems with the veins or too much pressure on them, they can change in shape. Veins also branch off into other parts of the extremities forming what is called superficial veins.

Varicose Veins

Varicosities often occur in the larger veins. When the blood doesn’t circulate as it should it can pool and form bulges that can be seen through the skin. Varicose veins often resemble thickened ropes and occur mostly in the legs but can be found anywhere. Vessels are larger than normal because of the back-up in blood flow.

Varicose veins can be quite painful. They often form during pregnancy due to increased pressure on the vessels from the extra blood volume. But, you don’t have to be pregnant to experience them.

The first sign that you may have a varicose vein is the fact that you can see and feel them through the skin. They are usually accompanied by cramping, itching, swelling and aching pain. Weakened valves may lead to the blood flowing in the wrong direction through the veins and the problems that come afterwards.

Varicose veins can be caused by different factors. One is pregnancy. Another is an abnormality in the veins to begin with such as weakened valves.

Standing in one place without moving can lead to increased pressure on the veins. It can also lead to blood clots in the veins. Blood clots can cause pain and inflammation at the site of the clot. Most are small enough not to be a problem in the superficial vessels. This is called superficial venous thrombosis.

Spider Veins

Spider veins are usually more plentiful than varicose veins. They occur in smaller branches off of these larger veins. They can be seen through the skin but are not palpable like varicose veins. They appear as a web or a sunburst design and are mostly bluish.

Spider veins usually do not cause pain. They are located in the legs, feet and ankles. Men and women can have spider veins but they mostly occur in women.

If you experience spider veins and varicose veins, see your doctor. Treatment may not be required unless varicose veins become painful and you develop dangerous blood clots in the deeper veins. Spider veins are mostly cosmetic but can be treated with laser for their removal.

Treatment Options for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can happen to anyone. They are not usually dangerous but can be quite unsightly. Find out what they are and the types of treatments used to get rid of them.

Varicosities can occur in any vein. When they are found in the rectum they are referred to as hemorrhoids. Most of the time, they are found in the thighs and lower legs. And, women are more prone to them than men.

The purpose of the venous system in the body is to return deoxygenated blood to the heart. Waste products that are picked up along the way are exchanged for oxygen in the lungs. When something interferes with the circulation of the blood it can lead to varicose veins.

The vessels swell in size to accommodate the backflow of blood. Weakened valves are one cause of varicosities. You are at risk for them if you:

* Stand for long periods of time
* Are pregnant
* Are overweight
* Are sedentary
* Have a family history of varicose veins

These are just some of the risk factors. If you have them you may not even take notice of them unless you are showing your legs. Many people with them don’t have any pain or discomfort associated.

You may see your doctor about ways to treat varicose veins. Without pain or other issue that affects your health, getting rid of them is purely cosmetic. Insurance companies are not in the habit of paying for cosmetic procedures but you can often find inexpensive ways to help get rid of them.

Exercise – Exercise can help to reduce the presence of varicose veins. It also helps you to control your weight, and less weight on your frame means less pressure on the veins of your legs.

Post pregnancy – Many women may develop them during pregnancy because of the increased weight and fluid in their tissues. It may take a few months post delivery but the varicosities usually disappear.

Other Treatments

If your problem involves pain, blood clots, inflammation and other risk factors or more serious side effects from non-treatment, you can usually get the insurance company to pay for a more extensive procedure.

Your doctor will perform tests to determine which treatment is best for you.

Laser treatments – These can be done in the doctor’s office using a local anesthetic. Precise laser energy is applied to the veins through the skin to destroy them. The vein will just disappear. Depending on the size of the varicose veins, this procedure may take more than one treatment.

Surgical Intervention – Since these are superficial veins, the deeper veins of the legs will take over the flow of blood, so your body won’t miss these. Small slits can be made in the skin and a light placed to locate the varicosities. They are them removed through these incisions.

Vein stripping involves inserting a plastic or metal catheter into the vein, tying it to one end of the vein and pulling it free from the leg. Applying pressure on the leg will tamponade the smaller veins attached to it and stop any bleeding.

Varicose vein treatment varies from home therapy (compression sleeves, exercise) to surgical intervention (laser, vein stripping). Ask your doctor about your options.

Tips to Cope with Anxiety and Fear

Anxiety and fear can keep you from living the life that you want. If you are dealing with them now, here are some tips to help you regain control of your life and put them behind you.

What is fear and anxiety? Anxiety is a disorder that can be characterized by attacks that may leave you powerless to respond. It may feel as if you are having a heart attack that seems to come out of the blue. You may experience sweating, heart racing, clammy skin and shortness of breath.

Anxiety can occur in a variety of situations. Some of them you may not be aware that you had a problem with until they happen. Fear is often the result of bouts of anxiety. There is that part of you that is afraid that the situation will arise again, so you are constantly on alert for it.

Cases of anxiety and fear can range from mild to severe. In most cases, it can begin with a thought or a memory that grows out of control and triggers the panic attack. In mild cases, they are not usually a hindrance to your life.

But, there are ways to help you deal with this feeling and the situations that trigger them. Even if the reasons surrounding the situation are irrational, the fear and anxiety are very real and so are the symptoms.

* Start by seeking medical advice – Your doctor may advise you to see a therapist to get at the heart of the matter. He may be able to treat your symptoms with medication. Give a thorough medical history as some medications for anxiety have strong side effects.

* Exercise – A healthy body can help you to deal better with the stresses and situations in your life that can lead to anxiety attacks. You don’t have to start with vigorous activities. Try yoga or tai chi or even Pilates to get your body moving again. Exercise releases endorphins that stimulate positive moods and clearer thinking in the brain.

* Hypnosis – Some find that under hypnosis they can reveal situations that may be leading to anxiety attacks. Once discovered, steps can be taken to deal with the situation. Hypnotherapy can also be used to introduce techniques for combating anxious situations.

* Visualization – A therapist can take you through the process. You are able to see yourself going into those situations that cause fear and formulate ways to deal with them before they happen. This can also be thought of as cognitive behavior therapy.

* Balanced diet –Eliminating salty, sugary and fatty foods from your diet can keep your blood sugar in balance. Shifting insulin levels can cause changes in mood. Healthier choices without preservatives may be able to reduce this effect.

Are you dealing with anxiety and the fear that follows? Seek help so that you can regain your life.

Top Tips for Beating Winter Fitness Slump

Winter and exercise can be difficult to mix. In the summer you were so glad to be outdoors but in the winter, not so much. Here are some of the best tips for helping you beat that winter fitness slump.

When the weather gets cold, we want to be like bears and hibernate. Unfortunately, if we sleep for three months there will be a major problem. So, instead of sleeping the winter away, how about we continue to get moving?

It can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise when all you want to do is cozy up, but you can do it. Exercise is just as important to the body in the winter months. In fact, because the body tends to lose heat in the winter, working out reaps that much more of a benefit to you. Your body has to work harder to stay warm, burning up more calories.

Now that you know the benefit of staying active, here are some fitness tips to get you motivated.

* Work out inside – Who says that you have to go outside if you don’t want to? Invest in some fitness DVDs and pop one into the player first thing in the morning. You have been indoors so you are not freezing. The body is warm and ready to go.

* Prepare – It is hard to get moving when you have to get your gear together. If you know that tomorrow is your exercise day, lay out your clothing and your shoes so you can jump into them easier. Keep your running shoes by the front door or your jacket on the hook where you can easily find it. The less of a struggle it is, the more chance you have of actually completing that workout.

* Work with a buddy – Two heads are better than one. Enlist the aid of a partner to help keep you motivated to fitness in the winter. Having someone with you encourages you to continue with your program and not just hit the couch.

* Bundle up – You are not too keen about the cold air, but if you dress properly, you won’t be fazed by it. Remember that you lose heat primarily out of your extremities (including your head), so keep them covered up. Wear a thinner glove for comfort and grip. Always wear a hat to protect your head and a scarf for your neck. Sporting goods stores may carry winter exercise gear.

* Choose a fun activity – You don’t have to go for a five-mile run if you feel like something to do. Play a game of catch in your backyard with your family. Go ice skating or snowboarding with friends. If you like doing it, then it doesn’t seem like exercise.

Don’t let the winter stop you from staying in shape. Use these tips to keep the momentum going.

The Positive Effects of Autogenic Training

It is no secret that stress is detrimental to your physical as well as mental wellbeing. Autogenic training may offer some help in that area. It has been used to help decrease stress symptoms in the body.

What Is Autogenic Training?

Autogenic training is a type of stress-reducing technique. It works by helping you to achieve a meditative state in which you can learn to control your body’s response to suggestion. From there, you can begin to take control of your life back from the ravages of stress.

In a nutshell, the technique works to reverse the stress response in the body. When we are stressed, the body reacts as if it is sensing danger. This is termed the fight or flight response. It is normally exhibited when we feel that we are being threatened or in danger of bodily harm.

It results in a heightened awareness. Pupils dilate to take in more light. The heart rate increases. Adrenalin is secreted into the system, preparing your muscles for a fight or to have to run for your life.

Well, imagine being in this state of high alert all the time. Whenever we are stressed, that is in essence what the body is doing. It can wreak havoc on our systems and lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, tension, irritability, pain and headaches.

Autogenics uses the body itself to reduce the stress. Here is how it works. This meditative technique was first used by a man named Johannes Schulz in Germany in the 30s. By using affirmations spoken out loud, the body can be lulled into a more relaxed state just by suggestion.

The autonomic nervous system which regulates the fight or flight response is affected. Autogenics has been shown to have positive effects on those suffering from stress, seasonal affective disorder and other conditions in the body.

You can practice it with very little training. Begin by finding a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. It is important to be free of distractions of any kind. Remove tight clothing, glasses and even contact lenses. Relax in a chair or lie flat on the floor.

Control your breathing. If you don’t already know, learn how to breathe deeply from the diaphragm to increase your oxygen intake. Start with a positive affirmation. If you are trying to achieve a calming state, use that as your affirmation.

You are setting the stage, and then concentrate on your arms. State that they are getting heavy and then getting warm. Now, move to your legs and repeat the same statements.

You can move from there to focus on your heart rate, your breathing, and other areas of your body that might exhibit stress. Continue to repeat your affirmations as well as the fact that you are in a calm state. You are completely aware of your surroundings so your body will respond. When you are completely relaxed you can open your eyes.

Autogenic training has a positive effect on conditions such as stress, heart issues and high blood pressure. Teaching your body to respond to relaxation can reduce the fight or flight response initiated by stress in the body.