The CDC estimates that deep vein thrombosis affects up to 900,000 people each year. Considering that some people never show symptoms, the true number of people affected could be higher.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the deep veins of your legs. While DVT itself won’t cause too much damage, it can lead to fatal complications. Pieces of the blood clot could potentially break off and make their way to the heart and lungs.
The good news is that catching DVT in its early stages can prevent these complications. That’s why it’s so important to know the earliest warning signs of DVT.
Are you wondering if you have a deep vein thrombosis? Then keep reading for 5 warning signs to look out for, and how to prevent risky complications.
5 Early Warning Signs of DVT
The two most common causes of DVT are immobility and hypercoagulation (blood that clots faster than usual).
Age, surgery, leg trauma, obesity, and even pregnancy are among the top reasons for immobility. Meanwhile, hypercoagulation can affect people on certain contraceptive pills, smokers, people with cancer, and those with a genetic predisposition to clotting.
If you think you have DVT, here are five early signs to watch out for.
If you’re experiencing unexplained pain in only one leg, this may be an early sign of DVT. People typically report that the pain begins in the calf, and gets worse with walking or standing.
DVTs can feel sore, tender, or achy, which is why they’re often mistaken for another condition. You’ll know the difference between a muscle injury and DVT because the pain increases instead of getting better, even with time and rest.
Muscle cramps are normal, especially at night. How do you know when your leg cramps are DVT-related? Leg cramps due to DVT only affect one limb, and they don’t go away with time.
In fact, most people report that DVT leg cramps get worse with time. DVT leg cramps also don’t go away after stretching or walking. Another way to tell the difference is that DVT leg cramps often accompanied by throbbing in the leg.
Swelling is a natural part of the body’s immune response. It keeps us from using the injured area to reduce the risk of further injury. In a DVTs case, swelling can become so severe, it persists even after you’ve treated the thrombosis— this is called post-thrombotic syndrome.
When a DVT blocks the blood flow in your leg, blood builds up in the region. This leads to an increase in the temperature of the skin over the DVT. Some people even report warmth in their entire leg or calf that doesn’t go away with time.
To check for this symptom of DVT, compare the warm region to the surrounding skin’s temperature. A DVT will often cause a pocket of warmth. The skin further away from the area may feel cooler to the touch if you have a DVT.
The final DVT warning sign to look out for is redness. When the skin gets deprived of oxygen, it can turn a bright red color. The redness can advance to a bluish or even whiteish appearance with continued oxygen deprivation.
Why does this happen? DVT reduces blood flow, especially around the clot. Since the blood carries oxygen, a reduction in blood flow also means a decline in oxygen to maintain the skin’s normal hue.
The good thing about recognizing the early signs of DVT is that you can get treatment fast. DVT treatments have three primary goals:
- To reduce the size of the DVT
- To stop the clot from breaking off and causing complications
- To prevent the development of a new clot
Here are the top treatments doctors prescribe to meet these goals.
The first thing you want to do if you suffer from DVT is to get active. Pain, swelling, and cramping may make this difficult at first. Yet, moving your legs is one of the best ways to prevent new clots from forming while you’re in treatment.
Keep in mind that you should avoid any activities that could cause injury. Also, avoid being too sedentary. Exercise your legs and stand up to walk in intervals if immobility is unavoidable.
The best line of defense against DVT is an anticoagulant medication. Anticoagulants are also known as blood thinners. These medications make it more difficult for your blood to clot, so your DVT doesn’t increase in size, and you don’t develop any new clots.
Most people only have to use anticoagulants for up to 6 months. Bleeding is a common side effect since this medication thins your blood. If you experience significant bleeding while using anticoagulants, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
Some people can’t take anticoagulants, so your doctor may prescribe surgery. DVT surgery usually incorporates vena cava (vein) filters. A surgeon will insert a medical-grade filter into the vena cava to prevent the clot from affecting your heart.
As we mentioned above, swelling is one of the earliest and most common warning signs of DVT. Some people even experience chronic swelling after their DVT clears up, a condition called post-thrombotic syndrome.
Luckily, compression socks are an easy fix for this symptom. Compression socks are tight at the ankles and get gradually looser as they go up to your knee. This puts pressure on the swollen area, restricting blood flow and reducing discomfort.
Deep Vein Thrombosis is Treatable
Deep vein thrombosis isn’t a big deal as long as you recognize and treat its symptoms early. Warning signs of DVT include pain, cramps, swelling, changes in temperature, and changes in skin color.
Are you searching for low-cost prescriptions for your DVT? Maple Leaf Meds can help you find the most competitive prices on anticoagulants and more. Use our search tool to find the price of your prescription anticoagulant and see how much we can help you save!