Though correct on both counts, those who have suffered with phlebitis know it as much more—as a painful, frightening affliction that can claim a victim's life without warning via a blood clot lodged in the pulmonary veins of the lungs.
Phlebitis is more correctly known as thrombophlebitis. "Thrombo-" is for the blood clot that is its trademark and primary danger. Two basic types of phlebitis exist: deep vein thrombophlebitis, or DVT for short, the more dangerous condition, and superficial phlebitis, the type of affliction we will deal with here.
The Two Types of Phlebitis
There are two types of phlebitis, one more severe than the other.
If you have superficial phlebitis, the affected vein will be near the surface of the skin. In fact, you may see it as a hard, red cord in the affected area that is tender to the touch.
The more severe form of phlebitis is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). With DVT, the affected vein is deep within the muscle, causing the affected area to become swollen and tender, especially when you first stand up. DVT can cause serious, life threatening health problems.
If you suspect you have phlebitis, you should see a doctor immediately. If you are diagnosed with superficial phlebitis, here are some things you can do to manage your condition.
What causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?
While recent research shows that various factors prove to put a person at risk for DVT, a more common cause for deep vein thrombosis is inactivity. The less you move, the slower your blood circulates, thereby increasing the chances for clots to form. Business travelers, people who spend long hours in cramped airplane seats or in cars, and people confined to wheelchairs are especially at risk if they are unable to regularly circulate the blood in their legs.
Therefore, it is always recommended for people who are confined to desks and chairs to take advantage of quick breaks to get the blood flowing again. Even in an airplane, it is possible to stand up and move slightly around the cabin, if only to stimulate blood flow in the lower half of the body and prevent numbness.
Signs and symptoms
There may be no symptoms referrable to the location of the DVT, but the classical symptoms of DVT include pain, swelling and redness of the leg and dilation of the surface veins. In up to 25% of all hospitalized patients, there may be some form of DVT, which often remains clinically inapparent (unless pulmonary embolism develops).
There are several techniques during physical examination to increase the detection of DVT, such as measuring the circumference of the affected and the contralateral limb at a fixed point (to objectivate edema), and palpating the venous tract, which is often tender. Physical examination is unreliable for excluding the diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis.
In phlegmasia alba dolens, the leg is pale and cool with a diminished arterial pulse due to spasm. It usually results from acute occlusion of the iliac and femoral veins due to DVT.
In phlegmasia cerulea dolens, there is an acute and nearly total venous occlusion of the entire extremity outflow, including the iliac and femoral veins. The leg is usually painful, cyanosed and oedematous. Venous gangrene may supervene.
It is vital that the possibility of pulmonary embolism be included in the history, as this may warrant further investigation.
A careful history has to be taken considering risk factors (see below), including the use of estrogen-containing methods of hormonal contraception, recent long-haul flying, and a history of miscarriage (which is a feature of several disorders that can also cause thrombosis). A family history can reveal a hereditary factor in the development of DVT.
Michael D. Dake, M.D., a vascular specialist at the Miami Vascular Institute in Florida, explains the difference. "Phlebitis just means inflammation of the veins," he says, "and that can be the superficial veins near the skin or the deep veins of the legs.
"Deep vein thrombophlebitis is something we're always on guard against," he continues, "because those people can develop a moving blood clot that would have direct access to the lungs if it broke loose and traveled through the system. DVT usually requires hospitalization and treatment with anticoagulants. The blockage that occurs in superficial phlebitis, however, tends not to break loose."
For that reason, the tips we offer here are intended for use only by persons who have been diagnosed with superficial phlebitis and are under a doctor's care. These tips are designed to help relieve pain without prescription medication and help reduce the chances of a recurrence.
Get off the Pill. "If you've had a history of phlebitis or blood clots, you definitely shouldn't use oral contraceptives," says Jess R. Young, M.D., chairman of the Department of Vascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. The incidence of deep vein thrombophlebitis in oral contraceptive users is estimated at three to four times higher than in nonusers. Such a relatively high rate of deep vein clotting also puts the superficial phlebitis sufferer at an unacceptably high risk for recurrence.
Give it rest and warmth. "Superficial phlebitis can be treated by elevating the leg and applying warm, moist heat," says Dr. Dake. While it is not necessary to remain in bed, rest, with the leg elevated 6 to 12 inches above the heart, seems to help speed healing. The inflammation of superficial phlebitis usually disappears in a week to ten days, though it may take three to six weeks to completely subside.
Know your risks. Once you've had phlebitis, you're at increased risk of getting it again. How much risk may depend largely on things you may or may not be able to control. "In general," says Dr. Young, "you have to be put in a situation where you're at increased risk for it, such as surgery or prolonged bed rest."
While you might not be able to prevent prolonged bed rest following an injury or serious illness, certain types of risks, such as elective surgery, can be avoided if you're an older individual prone to clotting disorders. Consult your doctor for specific risk factors, but keep in mind that getting up and around can help reduce the risks of developing phlebitis after surgery.
Investigate aspirin. Some studies have suggested that the blood-thinning properties of aspirin may help reduce phlebitis by preventing rapid clot formation in persons prone to the disease. These studies advise that you take aspirin before prolonged periods of bed rest, travel, or surgery, all of which tend to make circulation sluggish and increase the possibility of clotting. While such a simple recommendation sounds enticing, some doctors hedge on its effectiveness. "I'm not sure aspirin will be that protective against clotting," says Dr. Dake. Even if you do opt for aspirin, this is a medical treatment—see your doctor first.
Walk when you have to ride. Planning a long trip by car? If you've had phlebitis in the past, then make sure your wheels aren't the only thing in motion. "The main thing is to stop frequently and exercise when you stop," says Dr. Dake. "And don't just stop one time during the day and walk a mile, but rather, stop four or five times and walk shorter distances."
What you're trying to do, he says, is prevent the circulation from becoming sluggish as a result of sitting motionless for long periods of time. "Your circulation enters a low-flow state under those conditions and that can lead to a clot," says Dr. Dake.
Add another reason to quit. "If you get recurring cases of phlebitis and your doctor can't find any reason for it," says Dr. Young, "then you should quit smoking. You could have a case of Buerger's disease that just hasn't moved to the arteries yet." Buerger's disease is characterized by severe pain and blood clots, usually in the legs. It is directly related to smoking, and the only cure is to give up all forms of tobacco. "Occasionally, Buerger's will start out as phlebitis," Dr. Young explains. It's possible that Buerger's could be misdiagnosed as phlebitis, in which case continued smoking would be very hazardous to your health.
That's a long shot, Dr. Young admits, but worth considering if your doctor hasn't been able to explain recurring bouts of phlebitis. "Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be any connection between smoking and phlebitis," he says.
Get some exercise. "Exercise—primarily walking—tends to keep the veins emptied," says Robert Ginsburg, M.D., director of the Center for Interventional Vascular Therapy at Stanford University Hospital in California.
Keeping the veins emptied as much as possible is a good way to prevent a recurrence of phlebitis, he says. "The veins are a low-pressure system, and if the valves that keep blood from flowing backward in the legs aren't working properly, such as in varicose veins, the only way you're going to prevent blood from pooling is by walking."
Put your feet up when you're laid up. "If you've had phlebitis and you're going to be bedridden for any length of time," says Dr. Young, "elevate the foot of the bed several inches to increase blood flow through the veins."
He also suggests you exercise your legs as much as you can while in bed. "You can take aspirin if you want," he adds, "though there have been no good studies that show it prevents a recurrence."
Wear support stockings for relief. Some physicians advise the wearing of support stockings to prevent a recurrence of phlebitis, while others don't. While there's no documented evidence showing that support stockings do any good in preventing phlebitis, they do seem to relieve pain and make some people feel better. The best advice? Wear support stockings if they make you feel better. If they make you feel worse, though, don't think you must continue wearing them in order to prevent a recurrence.
Beware the friendly skies. The scientific literature is filled with reports of people being stricken with deep vein thrombosis following a long airplane flight. While nobody seems to be quite sure why this happens (cabin pressure, lack of motion, alcohol intake, etc.), the condition is so common that it is now known as "Economy Class Syndrome," because it rarely seems to strike those passengers seated in roomy, first-class seats.
"Long plane rides or car trips, or really any long period of inactivity, can increase the risk of thrombosis," says Dr. Young. "But on airplanes you tend to be confined to your seat a lot more than when traveling by car. So if you have phlebitis, this is a case where you ought to put on your elastic stockings before boarding, then get out of your seat and walk up and down the aisle every 30 minutes or so after taking off."
To help maintain good relations with your neighbors, he says, "It might be good to request an aisle seat."
A Sign of Infection
People often become quite worried when told they have phlebitis, believing that clots may break loose and cause death. This is rarely the case, although phlebitis can develop into life-threatening infection if left untreated.
If the symptoms of phlebitis—pain, redness, tenderness, itching, and swelling—are accompanied by a fever and they do not clear up in a week or so, see your doctor. It could be a sign of infection. Your physician can clear it up with antibiotics.
Human - DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
DVT is blood condition relating to circulation and viscosity.
There are three main reasons for deep vein thrombosis.
· Slowing of blood flow as in prolonged bed rest and/or inactivity due to sitting while travelling.
· Injury to the lining of the vein as in surgery.
· Increased tendency for blood to clot as in some cancers and rarely with contraceptive use .
About half the sufferers of DVT have no symptoms at all. in the others with inflammation and blood flow obstruction there can be swelling and pain in the calf, also the ankle , foot and thigh depending on the veins affected.
To improve this generally I suggest consuming foods with rutin on a regular basis eg lemon, buckwheat and blackcurrant. As well as taking a herbal mix with Rue . Recommendations for DVT :-
1. Drink ¼ squeezed and chopped lemon in hot water with small slices of ginger everyday . Lemon and ginger both improve circulation and make blood travel faster . Twice a day to start with to rebalance blood circulation system.
2. Eat one clove of garlic daily-garlic has favourable influences on cardiac factors
3. Walk daily for 20 minutes.
4. Avoid dehydration.
5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and fatty foods
6. take omega 3 fatty acids -fish oil, walnuts, olive oil
7. no margarine, processed foods
8. consume cold water fish-, cut down on other animal proteins
9. a happy heart is the best medicine- reduce impatience and anger, try contemplation, meditation.
Simple Home Remedies for Superficial Phlebitis
Find Relief with Heat
One way to treat superficial phlebitis is with heat. Several times a day, lie down and elevate your leg so that it's at least six inches above your heart. Place a warm, wet washcloth over your leg. Do this several times a day, and the inflammation caused by superficial phlebitis should be gone in less than two weeks.
Relieve Phlebitis with Aspirin
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin and ibuprofen, are known for their blood thinning properties, so they could have an affect on any blood clots that have formed in your body. However, before trying this method of self-care, see talk to your doctor first.
Superficial phlebitis is nothing to be afraid of. By taking a few simple steps, you could be rid of this condition in less than two weeks
Alternating Pressure and DVT
Ergonomic devices at work and home are always a plus. An alternating pressure cushion, for one, can improve circulation during times of inactivity.
Alternating pressure refers to a device that inflates and deflates in sections. Think of an air mattress or air seat cushion. As one pocket, the air is stagnant and does not move. When you sit on one, it may feel like sitting on an elevated version of the chair. Circulation remains the same.
Alternating pressure, however, works in a cushion devised of two or more air bladders interconnected to alternate inflating and deflating. Some bladders rise while others fall, and vice versa. This constant movement in a cushion lifts and shifts the body in place, so even though one is sitting there is opportunity for better circulation.
Where there is better blood flow, naturally, there is less discomfort. Alternating pressure keeps the blood moving and the skin healthy, allowing it to breathe. When skin breathes, it maintains a healthy color and elasticity. The blood flows and has less opportunity to clot, thereby decreasing risk of DVT.
For the constant traveler and the cubicle worker, an alternating pressure device can be handy in eliminating the risk of blood clots in the legs, and in turn preventing serious conditions.