Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a clot that occurs in one of the major veins deep inside your body. It’s most common for this to happen in one of your legs, but it can also happen in your arms, pelvis, lungs, or even your brain.
An immobile blood clot generally won’t harm you, but there is the chance that it could move and become dangerous. If a blood clot breaks away from its original spot and travels to your lungs, it becomes a pulmonary embolism – a clot that prevents these important organs from getting the oxygen and blood they need.
The American Society of Hematology estimates that DVT affects up to 900 000 Americans each year. It kills approximately 100 000 Americans yearly.
There’s no one way to know whether you have a blood clot without medical guidance. If you learn the warning signs, you’ll know when to get a quick medical help that can make a huge difference in keeping you out of the danger zone. Here’s what to watch for:
Swelling in one limb
A puffy leg or arm is one of the most common signs of a DVT. Blood clots can block the healthy flow of blood in the legs, and blood can pool behind the clot causing swelling.
It’s normal to overlook leg swelling as a symptom of a DVT if you get large or stiff legs when you fly, or during periods of immobility. But be suspicious if your bloated limb comes on quickly, especially if it shows up with a side of pain.
Leg or arm pain
Normally, DVT pain comes as a combo with other symptoms like swelling or redness, but sometimes it can be standalone. Sadly, pain from a blood clot can easily be mistaken for a muscle cramp or strain, which is why the issue often goes undiagnosed and is specifically dangerous.
DVT pain tends to strike when you’re walking or when you flex your foot upward. If you have a charley horse you can’t seem to shake, especially if the skin near it is warm or discolored.
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