What is deep vein thrombosis?

By Brooke Strickland

 

Deep vein thrombosis is medical condition that happens when a blood clot forms in a vein, deep in the body.  They can form anywhere in the body, but are more common in the lower legs or thigh.  This is a serious medical condition, because many times clots in the veins can break loose and travel throughout the body and get stuck in your lungs, which can block regular flow of blood to major parts of the body such as the lungs.  When this happens, it’s called a pulmonary embolism. 

Many times, there are not any symptoms when deep vein thrombosis occurs.  It usually happens, however, after the person has been sitting for a long period of time and has been inactive.  In fact, last year, deep vein thrombosis was the cause of death for a young man who had spent hours upon hours playing video games. This is why if you expect to be sedentary for long periods of time, to make regular attempts to get up and move and get blood circulating normally again. There are some symptoms however, that can provide warning that you may have this medical condition.  These include:

-Swelling and pain in the infected legs, even as low as the ankle and feet

-Pain that feels like a cramp or a Charley Horse

-Warmth over the area that is causing pain

-Skin color that is abnormal, such as red, blue, or pale

Many times this condition is an indicator that something bigger is happening, such as a blood-clotting disorder.  In addition, smoking, some medications, and being over the age of 60 can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.   If your doctor suspects you have this condition, you may need to have an ultrasound, CT scan, blood test, or a venography, which uses a dye injection into a large vein in your foot or ankle to look for clots. 

If you develop symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, contact your doctor right away.


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