In simple words, thrombophlebitis denotes inflammation of a vein caused by the formation of a blood clot. Apart from blood clots, the inflammation may be formed owing to a number of reasons - any injury, infection and soreness of the vein walls. The most common symptoms of thrombophlebitis may include distention and redness of the inflicted vein, occasionally together with fever.
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It needs to be underlined here that there is a need to differentiate between thrombophlebitis and the deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that causes dissimilar symptoms and is much graver.
In the case of thrombophlebitis, it is very likely that the vein affected by the condition is close to the skin surface, resulting in shallow thrombophlebitis, or when the condition occurs deep inside a muscle, it causes deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
Remember, any clot in a deep vein enhances the risk of grave health problems, counting an embolus (dislodged clot) passing all the way to the lungs and choking a pulmonary artery - a condition known as pulmonary embolism. In effect, one may develop thrombophlebitis owing to long periods of inactivity, for instance, sitting for prolonged periods or taking bed rest for long periods.
Fortunately, people enduring thrombophlebitis can get relief from pain as well as reduce their risk of blood clot formation even by adopting self-treatment methods. However, it is essential to consult a qualified physician before one undertakes any type of self-treatment. Several methods of treatment, counting medicines and surgery, are available to treat this condition.
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When the vein close to the skin surface of an individual is affected by thrombophlebitis, a red, stiff and sore cord becomes visible just beneath the surface of his/ her skin.
Likewise, when a deep vein in the leg is inflicted by thrombophlebitis, it is likely that the leg will become distended, tender and aching. In such conditions, the condition will be visible when the patient stands up or walks around. In addition, people suffering from thrombophlebitis may also suffer from fever.
Nevertheless, several people suffering from deep vein thrombosis often do not have any symptoms, at least those that are visible or can be felt.
It is advisable that you immediately get in touch with your physician in case you notice any red, distended or tender vein, particularly if you have one or more risk aspects for developing thrombophlebitis, for instance, if you have been inactive for a prolonged period or have a family history of blood clotting malady.
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Seek emergency medical aid and, if possible, visit an emergency room, in the event of the swelling and pain of the vein becoming intense, you experience breathlessness or are coughing up blood. Remember, the signs and symptoms mentioned above may perhaps point to deep vein thrombosis. In such circumstances, the risk of a dislocated blood clot moving up to the lungs passing through the veins enhances significantly.
As aforementioned, the primary cause of thrombophlebitis is clotting of blood in the veins. Blood may coagulate in the veins owing to several reasons, for instance, anything that does not allow the blood to circulate freely and properly. Among the various reasons behind formation of blood clots in the veins that often result in thrombophlebitis, may include any injury to a vein and/ or a family history of blood clotting disorders.
It may be reiterated that the blood clots may develop due to numerous reasons. One common apprehension people have regarding blood clots is that it may occur due to sitting for long hours at a stretch of time, especially when one is traveling by a car or aircraft.
It is true that sitting for prolonged periods may increase the possibilities of blood clot that may result in thrombophlebitis. However, the fact remains that this happens rarely. If you adopt appropriate precautions, for instance, stretching your legs from time to time or getting up and walk around for a while, you are actually able to reduce the risks of having thrombophlebitis.
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The risks of developing thrombophlebitis may increase in certain circumstances. Some of these are discussed below.
Any person, who is inactive for a prolonged period, for instance sitting in a car or an airplane, is faced with enhanced risks of developing this condition. In addition, people who take lengthy bed rests or are confined to bed for long period, for instance, following a surgery, a heart attack or even after sustaining an injury like breaking a leg, are also prone to develop thrombophlebitis.
People having a family history of blood clotting disorder too face the risk of having thrombophlebitis, as their blood clots easily.
In addition women who are pregnant or have given birth recently may have augmented pressure in the veins of their pelvis region and legs and are more susceptible to this condition.
Even women who use birth control pills or those who undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - which makes the blood to clot easily, may develop this condition. Even people who are overweight or obese or are above the age of 60 years face enhanced risks of developing thrombophlebitis.
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Thrombophlebitis may even inflict people who endure certain type of cancers, for example, pancreatic cancer. Such patients usually have enhanced procoagulants - substances required to form blood clots (coagulation), in their blood. People who have had a stroke that resulted in the paralysis of their arms and legs too are more likely to have thrombophlebitis.
In addition, people who have a pacemaker or a slim, flexible tube called catheter in their central vein for treating a medical condition that may irritate the walls of the blood vessel and lessen the flow of blood are susceptible to thrombophlebitis.
The greater is the risk factor, the higher will be the risk of developing thrombophlebitis. Even if you have just one or two risk factors, ensure that you consult your doctor regarding the issue and ask him to suggest preventive measures.
In fact, you should act immediately on this, lest prolonged periods of inactivity, for instance sitting for long while traveling in a car or an airplane or a lengthy bed rest following an elective surgery results in the development of this condition.
In case you develop a superficial vein thrombophlebitis (the condition occurring just beneath the surface of your skin), there would rarely be any complication.
Nevertheless, if the blood clots in a deep vein, you are likely to develop deep vein thrombosis, a grave medical condition. In this case, the possibilities of developing severe complications are much more. The complications endured by people having deep vein thrombosis may include the following:
Pulmonary Embolism: People with deep vein thrombosis may develop pulmonary embolism wherein an embolus (dislodged blood clot) passes all the way through the veins to the lungs and choke a pulmonary artery. In other words, if any portion of a deep vein clot breaks up, it may move up to your lungs via the veins and block an artery - a condition known as embolism, and may result in a potentially fatal situation.
Heart Attack or Stroke: People who have specific types of congenital heart defects that have resulted in a hole in the heart - for instance a patent foramen ovale (PFO), an atrial septal defect (a congenital heart flaw wherein wall separating the upper heart chambers or atria does not shut totally) or a ventricular septal defect (one or more holes in the wall that parts the right and left ventricles of the heart) - a blood clot in the veins may travel through the bloodstream and enter the coronary arteries or the brain and result in a heart attack or stroke.
A number of herbs are known to be beneficial for people having thrombophlebitis or have the risk of developing the medical condition. For instance, hawthorn is an excellent tonic for the circulatory system as well as the treatment of the blood vessels. To prepare the tonic, add two teaspoons of hawthorn berries to a cup of boiling water and allow it to infuse for about 20 minutes.
For best results, drink this tonic thrice every day. However, drinking this tonic does not produce immediate results and it may take a while before the effects of this herbal medication are noticed or experienced. In addition, you may take three garlic capsules thrice daily with a view to clear as well as avoid any infection.
In addition to herbal medication, the alternative stream of medicine, homeopathy is also effective for preventing as well as treating thrombophlebitis. If this medical condition occurs due to any type of injury, it is advisable that you take Arnica 6c four times every day for seven days. On the other hand, if the bruising remains, take Hamamelis 6c four times daily for seven days. Pulsatilla 6c is the most appropriate homeopathic remedy if the condition of the affected veins deteriorates and when the limb is not raised.
Besides using herbal and homeopathic remedies, you may also prevent the occurrence of thrombophlebitis by adopting a few other things and exercising some precautions. People who have the risk factors for developing this medical condition should not smoke. In addition, they are advised not to sit for prolonged periods without taking any breaks, especially when they are traveling in a car or airplane.
They ought to get up occasionally and walk around, if possible once in every 30 minutes. At the same time, such people should put their feet in an elevated position while they are resting.
In addition, people having the risk of developing thrombophlebitis should wear hosiery or support socks. Simultaneously, they should undertake specific exercises, especially daily walking or swimming are good exercises for preventing this medical condition. You should remember that exercises help the heart to pump blood throughout the body and it prevents the blood from stagnating in the veins.