Phlebitis: the symptoms that should alert you
Phlebitis, also known as venous thrombosis, is a vascular disorder that corresponds to the formation of a blood clot in a vein, most of the time located in the leg. It blocks completely or partially the blood circulation in the vein, like a plug. Venous thrombosis exposes the risk of clot migration in one of the main veins of the body, called the inferior vena cava, and later in the pulmonary arteries. What hinders the functioning of the lungs is pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
The frequency of phlebitis is of the order of 70.000 cases per year in France, indicates the French Federation of cardiology. Indeed, 2% of the French population will have a venous thromboembolic event during its existence. What are the warning signs and risk factors for developing phlebitis? Elements of answers with Dr. Patrick Assyag, cardiologist and vice-president of the French Federation of Cardiology.
Phlebitis: how to recognize the symptoms?
Pain in the leg
"Pain occurs in the leg, usually in the calf" says Dr. Assyag. Spontaneous or caused by palpation, the pain is accompanied by swelling of the area.
A swollen and hot area
To the touch, the area is painful, swollen and red. When these symptoms occur, there may be a risk of phlebitis, and therefore of pulmonary embolism.
Brutally, the individual runs out of steam for no apparent reason. It is a symptom of pulmonary embolism, a complication of phlebitis. This sign may be associated with pain in the chest. It is necessary to consider an emergency hospitalization.
A long-haul trip on a plane is one of the three major causes of phlebitis. During this type of trip, we do not move, and we do not hydrate enough: now, a sedentary lifestyle can cause venous thrombosis. The symptoms of phlebitis can occur three to four days after a trip of several hours. Another major cause of phlebitis: a fracture under plaster, a recent operation of the knee or the hip, requiring prolonged immobilization. A situation that promotes the appearance of a clot in the blood in the leg. The doctor notes that cancer patients are more likely to be affected by venous thromboembolism.
Dr. Assyag says that overweight, diabetes, smoking, cholesterol and high blood pressure are also risk factors for developing venous thrombosis. In addition, women are often concerned, especially during periods of prolonged immobilization, during pregnancy, and in case of associated venous disorders. "Phlebitis is not inevitable, it is advisable to think of it in front of the often evocative signs and consult urgently its doctor" Dr. Assyag concludes.
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