Know the Warning Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

A graphic showing the warning signs of DVT.

dvt awareness

You may have heard of DVT, or deep vein thrombosis on the news. It is a common but silent killer. DVT is a serious condition that affects an average of 600,000 Americans every year. So what should you look for as warning signs of this health issue? The Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City explains below. 

What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT?

First, let’s start with the term thrombosis. Thrombosis is when a blood clot forms in a blood vessel blocking the circulation of blood. Deep vein thrombosis is when that blood clot forms deep in a vein. The most common area of the body where a DVT forms is in the lower leg or thigh.

If the vein swells, the condition is called thrombophlebitis. DVT is extremely dangerous. Not only can a DVT in your legs block the flow of the blood in the vein, but that blood clot can break off and travel through the bloodstream. It can get lodged in the blood vessels of your lungs and create a pulmonary embolism, a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs, which can be life-threatening.

Who Is at Risk for DVT?

Deep vein thrombosis can affect both men and women of any age. Higher risk patients include individuals who recently underwent surgery, are on bed rest, or women on birth control. However, certain activities like sitting in cramped spaces for an extended period of time can cause DVT as well. This is why it is recommended to get up and stretch your legs during long flights or long car rides. This will help keep blood flowing instead of giving it the opportunity to pool or clot.

What Are the Warning Signs of DVT?

There are two main warning signs of DVT. The first is swelling. This symptom is typically seen in the leg that is affected. Be on the lookout for an abnormal enlargement of your leg. The second warning sign is pain in your leg. This type of pain will feel more intense than a leg cramp. It often starts in your calf and will intensify. Don’t ignore swelling or pain in your legs. See your doctor as soon as possible. There are other signs besides pain and swelling to look for as well. 

Look for These Symptoms of DVT:

  • Pain in legs
  • Swelling in legs
  • Tightness of skin in legs
  • Warmth near sore area
  • Redness near sore area
  • Cramping, often starting in the calf
  • Leg pain that worsens when bending the foot
  • Bluish or whitish skin discoloration

How Do Signs for DVT, Blood Clots, and Varicose Veins Differ?

A blood clot, or superficial thrombophlebitis, has symptoms that are easily visible because it is near the surface of the skin.

Symptoms of a Blood Clot (Superficial Thrombophlebitis):

  • Red veins
  • Hardened veins
  • Veins are sensitive to touch

Symptoms of DVT & Varicose Veins

Since DVT is so deep in the veins, and cause obstruction to blood flow, DVT’s symptoms are more similar to those of varicose veins and include:

  • Bulging, bluish veins
  • Swelling 
  • Aching 
  • Itching 
  • Changes in skin color 
  • Nighttime leg cramps
  • Feeling of heaviness in the legs and feet

Warning Signs of Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening complication and demands immediate medical attention. If the blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism and can kill you.  Warning signs of a pulmonary embolism include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Discomfort when breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Coughing up blood 

If you experience these signs, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

How Do You Pick a Vein Doctor for DVT Treatment?

We highly recommend finding an IAC Accredited facility because the IAC rigorously evaluates vascular testing and treatment facilities. The IAC Vascular Testing Accreditation and the IAC Vein Clinic Accreditation mean that the facility has a proven record of testing for all kinds of vascular conditions including heart disorders, stroke, and other conditions such as varicose veins. For more information, here are some factors you should consider when choosing a vein clinic such as the training of the staff and the equipment they are using.

Whether you’re looking for a physician for vein treatment, or have questions you need answered, the specialists at Vein Clinic are here for you. Give us a call today at (913) 541–3377, or schedule an appointment online. For more information about vein disorders, download our ebook below:


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