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Diseases of Veins and Capillaries

inflammation, limb, blood and vessels


Inflammation of Veins (Phlebitis, Greek, phleps, a vein).—Veins may be inflamed owing to injury, or in consequence of dilatation (vari cose veins), or some unhealthy condition of blood, or because of the formation of a clot (thrombus, see above) within them. Even if a clot be not present to cause the inflammation, the result of the inflammation will be to produce one, so that the vessel becomes blocked. Inflammation of veins sometimes occurs after childbirth.

Its symptoms, if the affected part can be seen, are thickening and hardening, swelling, and perhaps redness in the course of the vessel, and pain. Abscesses are apt to be produced; there is considerable fever, with foul tongue, headache, &c. Congestion of veins below the seat of obstruction, swelling and dropsy of the part, are results. Then if parts of the clots be detached, and carried into the current of the circulation, they will pass to various organs, blocking other vessels, and thus produce ab scesses in lungs, liver, joints, &c.

Treatment, which must be under qualified direction, consists in keeping the person per fectly quiet, to diminish the risk of clots being detached, and in the administration of such food and medicine as the general con dition of the patient demands. The limb should be raised, enveloped in wool and flannel, and at the outset warm applications may be needful to relieve pain and throbbing.

Varicose Veins (Latin, varix, a dilated vein) are veins that have become over-stretched by the pressure of blood within them. In addition

the vessels become tortuous; and the dilatation is greatest in the neighbourhood of a valve, where pouch-like stretchings are formed. The veins of the lower extremities are very liable to the dilatation, and the pouched and gorged veins are seen running a very winding course, specially towards the inner side of the knee. Often also the fine branches are seen, lower down, forming here and there a blue tracery in the skin of the inner side of the leg and foot. Piles (p. 268) are a form of varicose veins.

The causes are various, but are largely me chanical. A congested liver and costive state of the bowels, by impeding the return of blood, and thus increasing the pressure in the veins, produce them. They are common in pregnancy, because of the enlarged womb obstructing the veins in the abdomen. Persons engaged in occupations that keep them standing most of the day are liable to suffer from them, and specially stout people.

Treatment.—A loaded state of the liver and bowels should be corrected by purgatives. Sup Port to the vessels should be given where .pos sible, by, for example, a well-adjusted bandage on the limb, or the use of a properly fitting elastic stocking. The pain and swelling of a limb produced by varicose veins are greatly relieved by rest with the limb supported in an elevated position.