Deep Vein Thrombosis: A Preventable Problem
If you have had swelling in one of your legs for three or four days and it is not subsiding, then you may have a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The symptoms of DVT include pain and tenderness in addition to the swelling. However, these symptoms may not always be present.
People who are more likely to get DVT:
- Have a blood clotting disorder
- Are obese
- Take birth control pills
- Are pregnant
- Have a chronic health condition, such as cancer or heart disease
- Are in a wheelchair
- Can’t get up and move around for a while, such as on a flight
The great fear that accompanies a DVT is that it could move through your blood vessels and reach your lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism. This condition can hurt your lungs and possibly be fatal.
Treatment for DVT
If you have DVT, then you will want to avoid complications and prevent more clots from occurring. The most common treatment for DVT are medications called blood thinners, or anticoagulants. These medications do not rid you of the clot, but they can prevent it from getting larger. They also can prevent other clots from forming.
When you are first treated, your doctor will probably give you an injection of the medication. You will then need to take pills for at least three months. There are some patients who will need to take blood thinners for the rest of their life.
Warfarin (Coumadin) is a common drug that has proven itself with the test of time. You will need to test your blood level of the medication. It also reacts with various foods negatively. There are newer drugs that seem to be better. These include Pradaxa and Xarelto. The only problem with these drugs is that you may bleed too much from an injury.
You may need to wear special stockings that go from the arch of your foot to your knee. They can help reduce the pain and swelling in your legs and prevent more clots. Compression stockings come in different levels of pressure. If the ones available over the counter are not strong enough, then your doctor can write you a prescription for stronger ones. You may need to wear them for a long time, even for a number of years.
When you take a long flight, you shouldn’t cross your legs when you are sitting. You also need to get up every hour to keep your muscles moving for good circulation. When you are sitting down, you should change your position frequently. Doing all these things can help prevent DVT.
You should also wear light, loose-fitting clothing on your flight. You want to avoid anything that can affect your circulation. It is wise also to drink lots of water.
Inactivity can be a factor that contributes to DVT. Even when you are at your desk, you can do exercise. You can do calf lifts and move your heels and toes. Just like when you are on the plane, you should schedule breaks from your desk to stretch and walk around.
DVT is a potentially serious condition that can even lead to a possible fatality. Fortunately, you can do something about preventing it from happening. You need to get plenty of regular exercise and keep your weight under control. To help prevent possible clots, you may find that it is useful to wear compression stockings. For some people, they are even more comfortable than regular socks.