What Causes a Swollen Vein?

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  • Written By: C. Daw
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2019
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There are numerous causes for a swollen vein, including previous medical complications due to injuries directly to the veins, venous insufficiency and thrombosis, pregnancy, hypertension, and various side effects due to medications and allergic reactions. Swollen veins are usually categorized into two separate areas: varicose and spider veins. Varicose veins are large veins that protrude out through the skin and usually are red in nature. Spider veins are similar to these but they are much smaller, and they can appear as red or purple protrusions.

Venous insufficiency and thrombosis are medical conditions that indicate that a serious underlying problem is present. Insufficiency will cause a swollen vein because blood is not being pushed through the arteries properly, meaning that there may be a problem with blood pressure, possibly from impending heart failure. Thrombosis is a medical term used to indicate a blood clot, which slows or eliminates the amount of blood flowing through the body, causing them to protrude outward in the skin.

Pregnancy and hypertension will also cause swelled veins, to appear. The reason for this is because of the sometimes drastic change in blood pressure and volume. When it rises, the veins enlarge in order to try and accommodate the increase in blood flow. This has also been shown to happen to people that are overweight, unhealthy, and even people that are on their feet all day because of the increased pressure that is put onto the limbs.


Side effects from various medications, as well as allergic reactions, can cause swelling in the vein in numerous places throughout the body, but usually are located in the legs and feet. This is one area that can usually be isolated by analyzing any recent lifestyle or eating changes. By stopping the intake of the responsible drug or food, the varicose or spider veins will be stopped from forming, and may even go away.

A swollen vein may require professional medical treatments in order to solve the problem if there are serious conditions present. If not, some simple steps can be taken in order to reduce the amounts of them that appear, and can effectively reverse their effects. Wearing long support type socks is one way to help the problem, as well as losing weight when needed. Changing lifestyle and diet habits are big factors that can help or hurt the swollen veins. There is also a medical procedure that is accomplished by shooting saline directly into the vein in order to reduce the swelling, as well as various other procedures ranging from laser to scalpel surgeries.


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