Blood clots aren't always a bad thing: When you get injured, clots can prevent further injury by clumping together.
But sometimes when clots appear out of nowhere, it's usually a bad sign, especially when they form in the deep veins near your muscles. “When blood clots form in this deeper system, they can be painful and very dangerous,” says Dr Luis Navarro, founder of the Vein Treatment Centre in New York City.
This particular clot is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If your circulation is a blood highway, DVTs are roadblocks that cause traffic jams, preventing healthy blood flow. Unfortunately, DVT can travel to your lungs making things extremely complicated.This is a pulmonary embolism (PE), a clot that stops oxygen and blood travelling to vital organs.
Know the warning signs and recognise symptoms. Even thought some are more prone, it's important to stay on top of any risk factors. And getting prompt treatment is key, says Dr. Navarro. Here are 6 signs you need to watch for.
Swelling is the most common and obvious sign of DVT. “Blood clots can block the healthy flow of blood in the legs, and blood can pool behind the clot, causing swelling,” says Dr. Navarro. If the bulge comes on quick and is accompanies with pain, there's a strong chance it could be a clot.
Even if there's no swelling, pain alone can be a sign of DVT. “Unfortunately, pain from a blood clot can easily be mistaken for a muscle cramp or strain, which is why the issue often goes undiagnosed,” says Dr. Navarro. Muscle pains associated with DVT will usually occur during exercise and can easily be mistaken for muscle cramps. .
Often, bruising can signal a blood clot, it's the red colour that can signal something more sinister like DVT. DVTs cause redness in the affected limb, and make your arm or leg feel warm to the touch, according to the National Blood Clot Alliance.
4\ CHEST PAIN
Usually mistaken for a heart burn, chest pain can easily be pulmonary embolism. “Both PE and a heart attack share similar symptoms,” says Dr. Navarro. During deep breaths, PE pains can be excruciating like a sharp and stabbing sensation. What separates PE from a heart attack is the source of the pain - your breathing patterns are a huge hint it's a case of PE. Regardless, you need help immediately, so call 000.
Even if you aren't experiencing pain in your breathing, any shortness of breath can be an indicator of DVT. Because DVT affects the oxygen flow in the body, your heart has to work harder consequently increasing its rate, according to the National Institutes of Health. "Feeling a flutter in your chest and having trouble with deep breaths could be your body signalling that you’ve got a pulmonary embolism lurking in your lungs", says Dr. Navarro. Lightheadedness might be a symptom. Seek help immediately if you experience these symptoms unexpectedly.
Not sick, not a smoker, but can't shake off a cough? There's a chance that a pulmonary embolism is affecting your breathing ability and heart health. “The cough will be dry, but sometimes people can cough up mucus and/or blood,” says Dr. Navarro.