DVT Explained

Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT, is a serious medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins in the body, oftentimes in the legs.  DVT may cause some symptoms, swelling and pain and such, but may often leave the sufferer completely unaware of his or her condition. Many times, someone with deep vein thrombosis will not know they have a situation until the clot breaks free and lodges in the lungs, a condition known as a pulmonary embolism.  This life-threatening condition may be the first symptom of DVT that the victim notices. 

Many of the risk factors for deep vein thrombosis are ones shared by any condition that affects the cardiovascular system.  Poor dietary decisions, smoking, obesity, and the like can all be contributing factors.  Clots can form from spending long hours sitting, so individuals who are required to spend a long time sitting, such as on car rides, may be at higher risk.  Pregnant women are at a higher risk than others.   

Family medical history and age are also factors, with most clots tending to develop in patients who are over 50 years old.  Previous injury to your veins (such as through vein catheters or serious bodily trauma) can increase the likelihood of clots forming, as well.  There are also certain medications and illnesses that increase the chances of DVT in patients.  If you have a concern about this, it is important to speak to your doctor about it. 

While it is true that a sufferer of DVT may not show signs, sometimes certain symptoms do arise.  These can include redness or warmth over the affected area, pain and swelling in one leg (occasionally swelling may occur in both legs, but this is rare).  If you believe that you are suffering from DVT, it is important to speak to a qualified healthcare provider to receive accurate diagnosis and treatment. 

If you experience the symptoms associated with the advanced stage, pulmonary embolism, you should contact your physician immediately.  Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include increased heart rate, shortness of breath, pain in the chest, coughing up blood, or feeling dizzy or faint.  These can herald the onset of an extremely serious medical condition. 

In the event that you do suffer from DVT, there are certainly great medical advances that can help.  Medicines exist to break up clots and prevent new ones.  Medicines exist to ease pain and decrease inflammation.  In particularly severe cases, surgery may be required, and there are several other treatment options that can then be utilized depending on the situation.  Warm, damp compresses can be used on the affected body part.  If you are suffering and must endure a long trip, try to stretch your legs out and walk around as often as possible.  Stay well-hydrated and take frequent breaks from your seat. 

If you are concerned about your risk factors, take steps to lower them in your life.  Quit smoking.  Change your diet. Exercise more.  Ask your doctor what steps you should take to lower your chances of experiencing deep vein thrombosis.