A man whose leg mysteriously swelled up was surprised to learn the cause: Deep vein thrombosis.
Deep vein thrombosis is a common condition caused by a blood clot in a deep vein. The scary condition is common among people over 50, Little Things reported. Risk factors include sitting for long periods of time, obesity and frequent air travel.
Generally speaking, DVT develops in the leg and causes pain as well as a blockage of blood flow. The condition, however, can easily move throughout the body and pose a risk to the health of your heart, lungs and brain.
DVT isn’t always visible from the surface, but an early symptom to look out for is swelling on one leg. Doctors test for the disorder using an ultrasound. Other symptoms include visible veins, throbbing pain in the arms or legs, radiating heat from the area where DVT developed, fatigue, dizziness, coughing blood and shortness of breath.
British author Wendy Holden wrote a piece for the Daily Mail detailing her own scary encounter with DVT, which she got from a broken ankle.
“A searing pain in my chest coupled with a terrifying inability to breathe screamed heart attack, and I remember thinking: ‘Oh, I didn’t expect to go like this,’” Holden wrote of her symptoms. The author developed the symptoms after falling down a pothole before Christmas and broke her right ankle in two places.
“Hooked up to oxygen in an ambulance, I heard a paramedic tell hospital staff that he suspected I had a pulmonary embolism (PE) caused by a DVT,” she wrote.
“The blood gets ‘sticky’ with inactivity, and the body’s natural clotting process kicks in. His diagnosis was confirmed by a later CT scan that showed I had two large blood clots – one in each lung – as well as multiple smaller ones. All had broken off from a DVT in my right calf, travelled up my main arteries and through my heart and lodged themselves in my lungs. The largest one was pressing on my main pulmonary artery, causing the intense pain.”