March is Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month so now is a great time to check on your venous health. Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins within the body, often in the legs. Identifying the signs of DVT is important for proper treatment. Here are a few symptoms you must be aware that can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.

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Swelling and pain in the lower extremities

Two key signs of deep vein thrombosis are swelling and pain in the lower extremities. This pain often occurs as cramps or soreness even after being inactive. A feeling of heaviness or tightness may also accompany swelling. When examining your legs check your ankles for any swelling or bruising that hasn’t been there before. Bruising is typically a sign of blood flow issues. If you notice these symptoms contact your doctor for an exam. If you can’t see your doctor for a couple of days keep your legs elevated while sleeping, sitting, and lying down.

Skin color and texture changes

Examine your legs for any color or texture changes. These issues can be a sign of DVT. In some cases, the skin may look like a bruise, especially around the problem area. Run your hands down your legs feeling for warm or shiny areas as well as tight skin. These changes in color and texture are possible signs that blood flow is being affected within the leg. If you notice any of these issues, contact your doctor.

Difficulty breathing

While DVT issues are most often located in the lower extremities, the problems associated with these symptoms can lead to pulmonary embolism. Otherwise known as PE, these problems occur when a blood clot breaks apart from the vein wall and travels from the leg to the lungs causing a blockage. Common symptoms of this include chest pain, rapid heartbeat, having a hard time breathing and possibly coughing of blood. In the instance you experience any of these issues, especially accompanied by leg pain and, or swelling of the lower extremities, it is of dire importance you contact medical help immediately. DVT is not something you want to mess with.

Warmth in the legs

People suffering from DVT may experience warmth and redness in one or both legs. These issues are typically associated with inflammation due to poor blood flow or a clot and may be a sign you have an issue. If you notice one leg is warmer than the other, especially lower toward the ankles, or the skin is red or bluish, contact your doctor because you may have a blood clot. Staying proactive when you notice any issue is key. If you notice discoloration, or experience cramping in your legs it may be a sign of DVT.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Month is a time to identify symptoms associated with this health issue that people often don’t think about or unaware of. Understanding the signs of DVT can help you be proactive with your health and prevent further issues. If you are experiencing swelling, redness, leg pain, cramps in your lower extremities or difficulty breathing contact your doctor. Being proactive is crucial when it comes to deep vein thrombosis so as you recognize a DVT symptom seek medical attention quickly.

 Author: Dr. Lawrence Presant is Chief Medical Officer at Arizona Vein Specialists in Phoenix, Arizona. Presant is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, General Surgeon by training and a certified Diplomat of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine.