The major neck veins which you often notice in many persons as green bulging veins are called jugular veins. They are present in both the sides of neck. Neck veins carry impure blood from the head, back to the heart. Neck veins are important for estimation of pressure in the venous system. The veins are useful in differentiating different heart and lung conditions. Neck veins get distended due to obstruction or compression or increased blood pressure.
What Causes Distended Jugular Veins?
There are several causes for distended neck veins such as:
- Goiter: when the thyroid gland is enormously enlarged, it compresses the surrounding structures. Jugular veins passing through the neck are mechanically compressed and there is back pressure in the veins resulting into its distension.
- Superior vena cava syndrome: when superior vena cava is blocked due to a tumor arising from lung, or due to breast cancer or thyroid cancer it give myriad of symptoms such as distension of neck veins, red face, breathing difficulty, cyanosis etc.
- Cardiac temponade: it is a condition where the heart chambers are compressed due to mechanical factors such as increase in pericardial fluid. The heart decreases its pumping capacity and contractility resulting into increased blood pressure and distended neck veins as one of its symptoms.
- Tricuspid regurgitation: the blood regurgitates due to faulty valve. It creates pressure in the neck veins causing its distension.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, thick sputum, cyanosis, and distended neck veins are some of its symptoms.
- Congestive cardiac failure (heart failure): the neck veins distend as the volume of blood and fliud accumulates in the veins due to poor functioning of the heart.
- Other causes include pneumothorax, cardiomyopathy, exercise can also make your jugular veins prominent and distended.
Symptoms Of Distended Neck Veins
Since distended neck veins is itself a symptom of the underlying condition that is related to heart or the lungs, following are some of the associated symptoms that are observed together with distended neck veins:
- Edema in the neck.
- Swelling of face.
- Cyanosis (blue face and lips).
- Cough and rapid breathing.
- Shortness of breath.
- High blood pressure.
- Swelling of feet, ankles and legs.
- Pulsation feeling in the neck veins.
- Distension of neck veins with palpation of liver as it is seen in tricuspid regurgitation.
- Irregular heartbeats.
- Loss of appetite.
- Coughing of frothy pink sputum.
- Sharp pain in chest, cough and shortness of breath, pain radiating to the shoulder. All these symptoms present in pneomothorax (collapsed Lungs).
- Enlarged swelling in the neck as in case of thyroid cancer or simple goiter.
- Restlessness and confusion.