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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a very serious condition that requires emergent medical attention. DVT is caused when blood within the veins, typically in the leg, forms clots. Clotting is an essential defense mechanism of the body, but it is supposed to stop wounds from bleeding, not block veins and arteries. DVT is especially dangerous because blood clots can break off, flowing to the heart or lungs and causing a fatal pulmonary embolism. Many factors increase your risk, including smoking, obesity, and age, along with limited leg movement. It is important to be aware of the signs of DVT and seek medical treatment if you notice any issues.


One of the most common signs of a blood clot that is causing deep vein thrombosis is a pain. Passengers on a long flight, for example, might notice a throbbing pain in their leg later that day. Pain occurs when blood is not able to flow freely through the vein due to a blockage, causing swelling. This is a sign that a clot has formed, and should be given immediate medical attention. If the clot breaks off and travels to your heart, it could be fatal, so do not make the mistake of ignoring leg pain.

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Another typical sign of deep vein thrombosis is swelling. When the flow of blood is blocked or reduced, it causes painful swelling on the other side of the blockage. While not all DVT clots swell enough to be noticeable, you should pay attention to any visible signs of swelling. If you notice a tender or painful lump in your leg or observe swollen tissue, you should contact a physician right away. Blood clots are very serious and should never be taken lightly. If pain or other signs accompany your swelling, seek emergency care.



As blood begins to pool behind a clot, you may notice a change in skin color. The area of the leg behind the clot may become red, in addition to being swollen. Meanwhile, the areas with reduced blood flow may turn white or even blue. Any time you notice an unexplained color change on your legs, you should look for other signs that it may be DVT. If you suspect that a clot could be the cause of the redness, do not delay in getting medical assistance. Typically, redness caused by DVT would be accompanied by pain and swelling, but a doctor should examine any color changes.

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When parts of your body are not getting enough blood, you may notice that they feel fatigued. The same applies to DVT. To demonstrate this, try holding your arm upright, without leaning it on something. As blood flow to your hand and forearm decreases, your arm will feel weaker and more fatigued. If you experience this sensation in your leg, it may be due to a blood clot causing DVT. As blood flow in your leg becomes restricted due to the blockage, you may notice that your leg becomes weaker and more tired. An ultrasound can confirm whether DVT is the cause.

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Your skin can provide many clues about what is going on underneath it. In addition to turning red, people with deep vein thrombosis may notice that there is an issue because the skin becomes warm to the touch. This is because as the blood begins to collect in the vein behind the clot, it increases temperature and leads to warm skin. This sign usually occurs concurrently with many of the other symptoms. When it does, it is important to seek urgent medical attention to examine the clot before it has time to break off and cause severe damage.

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Although it doesn't occur in everyone, visible or bulging veins may be a telltale sign of deep vein thrombosis. When a clot is present, blood is not able to flow as easily and may cause the vein the enlarge. If the tissues in your leg are swollen, it may be difficult to see whether the vein itself is swollen. However, some patients do experience this on its own. Having consistently visible veins, including varicose veins, may be a sign that you are at higher risk for developing DVT, as well.



An overwhelming majority of patients do not have any visible symptoms of DVT. It is important to be aware of your risk level, and pay close attention to any indication that something may be wrong. Older adults who smoke or are overweight are at a much higher risk of DVT. Also, anyone who has traveled on a long flight or otherwise spent extended periods of time without walking or stretching their lengths may be at an increased risk as well. If you notice any symptoms of DVT or have concerns about your risk level, speak to your doctor.



If you experience shortness of breath, you should always take it very seriously. This can potentially be a sign of deep vein thrombosis, but if it is, you should call an ambulance or have someone take you to the emergency room immediately. Shortness of breath may signal that the blood clot has broken off and traveled to your lungs or heart. Pulmonary embolisms can be fatal if not treated immediately, so do not delay if you experience this symptom, especially if it is a combination with any of the other signs mentioned.

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Patients who are experiencing a pulmonary embolism often have severe chest pain. This is another sign that the blood clot has traveled through your bloodstream to your lungs. Pulmonary embolisms can cause heart failure, along with other complications. The chest pain is typically accompanied by shortness of breath and other signs of cardiovascular and respiratory distress and can be a sign of this potentially fatal condition. Of course, any time that you experience severe or unexplained chest pain, you should seek emergency care. There is no way to treat a pulmonary embolism on your own.

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One of the other primary symptoms of deep vein thrombosis is dizziness or confusion. This may happen initially, as blood flow becomes restricted and your brain receives less oxygen. It can also happen if the blood clot breaks off and causes a pulmonary embolism. In this case, you will need to receive treatment right away to prevent permanent damage or death. When DVT turns into a pulmonary embolism, confusion, light-headedness, fatigue, and dizziness are common symptoms. If you experience this in connection with any other symptoms, you may have a life-threatening condition and should immediately contact your doctor.



Blood clots can happen at the end of any procedure and are much more likely to occur in the sedentary patient. Therefore, it is very important to move around as much as possible after the surgery. Pump your ankles, contract your large muscles in your legs, get up and walk within your restrictions and move all joints that are not splinted as much as possible! If you were prescribed blood thinners, then take them. If you had any lower extremity procedure and were not prescribed blood thinners, then take a baby aspirin every day as well as following the other advice in this paragraph.

Signs and symptoms of a blood clot are as follows:

Blood in your spit or in your mouth, shortness of breath (particularly at rest), unusual or painful swelling in your calf or leg, bulging of the veins in 1 or both of your legs, a change in color in your legs, unusual chest pain, dizziness, confusion or lightheadedness as described above. If any of these signs or symptoms occur, you must go to the emergency room immediately or call 911.

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