The blood transports oxygen through the blood vessels and plays a vital role in the body. But sometimes blood clots can form and present a serious threat to the health (known as deep vein thrombosis – DVT).
A blood clot: what is it?
A blood clot is a solid mass made up of fibrin (a blood protein). It can form in the deep veins (especially in the veins of the legs) and block blood flow. This is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when creation of the blood clot has nothing to do with an injury.
What are the causes of deep vein thrombosis?
- Heart and lung diseases
- Cancer (brain, bone, pancreas, ovarian, lymphoma, etc.)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Hereditary factors
One of the main causes of DVT is immobility, especially after surgery or after an accident which limits movement.
When a blood clot forms in the lungs, it is called pulmonary embolism, a condition that requires taking immediate medical care.
Here are 10 signs and symptoms to know about blood clots:
- Leg swelling
Leg swelling is one of the main symptoms of deep vein thrombosis. In fact, you’ll notice a clear difference in the appearance of your legs. You will probably have one swollen leg over the other due to an accumulation of fluid that will hinder the movement every time you go walking.
A swollen leg may have several potential medical interpretations but if you are at risk of DVT, you should promptly consult a specialist.
Indeed, according to a study published in 2009 in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, one of the most common symptoms of DVT is swelling of the legs.
- Leg pain
According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, leg pain is one of the most common symptoms of DVT. This is a very strong pain felt at the leg and can be located anywhere.
This pain can be felt when walking (pressure caused by the blood clot) and can make a person to do several stops as it walks. If you feel that pain, see your doctor.
To find out if this pain is related to DVT, you can squeeze your calf and wait to see if the pain goes off, you can also lift the leg in a straight position and try to pull your toes with your hands (this is so called Homans’ test for DVT).
- Feeling of unusual warmth
In case of blood clot due to DVT, unusual heat sensation may be felt in the area where it is located. This sign is accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling and pain. Whenever you feel pain after walking, you have to stop and sit down.
- Skin discoloration
If you have DVT, you’ll probably notice change in the color of your leg and becoming both red and blue.
It is therefore quite possible that a blood clot develops in this area.
A blood clot is characterized by a vein that is traumatized, causing inflammation which will manifest as a visible color change on the surface of the skin. This irritated part of the skin can also cause itching.
It is advisable not to scratch the area as this can also worsen the condition of your skin.
- Physical and mental weakness
A person suffering from DVT can feel some weakness in the quadriceps. This sensation is accompanied by dizziness and mental weakness. This is not the most common symptom, so it is important to be careful that this symptom is not associated with other symptoms.
A moderately intense fever that progresses to an advanced stage can be a serious symptom of DVT, according to a study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolytic.
- Shortness of breath
This is another very disturbing symptom that occurs when DVT and indicating a risk of pulmonary embolism. The sensation of breathlessness clearly indicates that there is a blood clot in the lungs, hindering not only the blood flow in the lungs but also the airflow. As a consequence, breathing will become clogged and then become abnormally fast.
According to a 2007 study published in The American Journal of Medicine, dyspnea (difficulty in breathing) is one of the most common symptoms of pulmonary embolism.
- Chest pain
When the lungs are blocked because of the sedimentation of a blood clot in the lungs, it will result in acute chest pain. According to a study published in 2013 in Experimental and Clinical Cardiology, a large number of patients with deep vein thrombosis in an advanced stage and pulmonary embolism are prone to this type of chest pain.
- Constant cough
Coughing is another symptom of deep vein thrombosis at an advanced stage and pulmonary embolism. This is a sign of obstruction caused by a blood clot that has migrated to the lungs, making breathing impossible.
- Excessive sweating
A person suffering from DVT will probably sweat excessively (sweating is associated with other symptoms described above). You may also feel dizzy.
Indeed, the night sweats are very common in people with pulmonary embolism (this helps to detect it at an early stage).
Note that a blood clot in the leg can not only move to the lungs, but also to the heart and brain, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.