Did you know that over 200 000 South Africans suffer from deep vein thrombosis each year? According to statistics, South Africa. While the numbers speak for themselves, many people are unaware of the illness, what causes it, its symptoms, and how it is treated. Thankfully, we have put together a little guide, a DVT 101, with everything you need to know about deep vein thrombosis.
The question for many of us is, what is deep vein thrombosis? Is it fatal? How is it treated, and can it be managed at home? While all these questions may be a little anxiety-inducing, it is always good to know what an illness is and what causes it.
Below we will discuss what causes DVT and how it is treated and managed.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis is a medical condition and could be caused by a clot that forms because of an operation, an infection,an injury, immobilisation, malignancy or genetics. These deep vein blood clots can develop anywhere on the body but are most likely to occur in the thigh or calf. DVT can also occur when blood flow is restricted, leading to blood clots.
3 Ways to diagnose DVT
- Deep vein thrombosis is safely diagnosed through something called a Duplex Ultrasound. The Duplex Ultrasound is the standard test used to diagnose DVT, conducted by a registered professional in a controlled environment. It is the standard imaging test to detect blood clots or blockages in deep veins. The test is carried out by gently moving a hand-held device, typically referred to as a transducer, over your body’s skin in the area where clotting is suspected of having formed.
- D-dimer tests are also used to exclude DVT. A negative D-dimer test =no DVT and a positive =DVT, infection or trauma.
- An x-ray examination known as Venography is also used to diagnose DVT. Venography involves injecting contrast dye into the veins that show blood flow and possible blockages in the veins.
The early warning signs of DVT – Signs & Symptoms
- Pain in your extremities. (Arms, legs)
- Warmth in the location of the pain.
- Swelling around the ankle and lower leg
- Redness in the area of swelling and pain.
- Cramps in the legs, usually starting in the calf.
- Whitish or bluish discolouration of the skin.
- Leg pain that worsens when bending your foot.
What are the dangers of DVT if left untreated?
The most significant danger posed by deep vein thrombosis is that if left untreated, it can result in Pulmonary Embolism. A pulmonary embolism is when a blood clot breaks off and makes its way to the heart or lungs, resulting in heart attacks, strokes, and even severe breathing problems.
1. Shortness of breath or breathing problems, especially during and after exercising.
2. Coughing up bloody, pinkish or foam mucus.
3. Sudden or rapid dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting.
4. Irregular or rapid heartbeat.
5. Intense chest pains that are made worse by breathing deeply, coughing or bending over. Pain doesn’t go away, even when you rest.
Three Treatment Methods For DVT
- Medical-grade compression stockings are used as a method of deep vein thrombosis treatment. These compression stockings are one of the most effective methods of lowering the chances of blood clots forming, and they are also exceptionally effective in treating current blood clots. Compression stockings are usually used with oral medication to treat and manage DVT. The use of deep vein thrombosis compression stockings while driving, on a flight or even at work, helps to reduce your risk of blood clots forming and is also one of the best ways to treat DVT.
- Another form of treatment for DVT is Anti-Coagulants, also known as blood-thinning medication.
- Thrombolysis -using catheter directed techniques with IV drugs clots
How to manage DVT at home
- The first and best way to manage DVT at home is to take your anti-coagulant medication. Taking preventative measures such as avoiding contact sports, preventing injuries and falls, and wearing protective gear when playing light sports or exercising can help prevent accidents and bleeding problems at home while on blood thinning medication for the treatment of DVT.
- Invest in a few pairs of deep vein thrombosis compression stockings and wear them at home while doing chores or light work in the garden. These stockings provide all the support your legs need and create a gentle pressure that helps prevent blood clots from forming while treating current DVT symptoms.
- Elevate your legs with a leg elevation pillow. Elevating the legs increases the venous blood flow in your veins and stimulates blood flow to the heart and lungs. Leg elevation can also help to prevent new blood clots from forming and treat existing ones.
- Taking a few short daily walks can significantly improve circulation and help to treat and manage deep vein thrombosis at home.
Lifestyle changes to prevent & manage DVT
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol with changes to your diet, such as reducing your salt and sugar intake and avoiding fatty and unhealthy foods.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid sitting down for too long. If you’re on a long-distance flight, get up and stretch your legs often. Flexing your feet to help stretch out your calves is also helpful for DVT sufferers.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing when travelling long distances.
- Do daily exercises such as walking or swimming to aid in blood circulation.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, mainly water.
- Make use of and wear compression stockings, particularly during bed rest or after surgery.
Alternative treatments for DVT
Here are a few alternative herbs and supplements to treat DVT and alleviate symptoms.
- Turmeric is known for its blood-thinning properties and may help with the lining of the blood vessels and helps to improve and regulate blood pressure and blood clotting.
- Ginger may also be used to treat DVT and is known for containing an acid called Acetyl salicylic acid, commonly referred to as Aspirin and is well known to help prevent stroke.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce inflammation, all of which play a role in deep vein thrombosis.
- Vitamin E is known to be a natural blood thinner and helps to treat and manage DVT.
- Cayenne Pepper is good for improving circulation and can be added to your food or taken as an oral supplement.
Now that we’ve covered DVT, it is essential not to confuse deep vein thrombosis with superficial venous thrombosis. Here are the differences between the two.
What is Superficial Venous Thrombosis?
Superficial venous thrombosis (SVT) typically refers to a blood clot that forms near the surface of the vein instead of the deep vein. Superficial venous thrombosis presents more pain and inflammation and is less life-threatening than DVT.
What causes Superficial Venous Thrombosis?
An extended period of inactivity, such as sitting down for too long, or lack of exercise, after a severe injury or operation, are all causes of SVT and varicose veins.
How Is Superficial Venous Thrombosis treated?
Methods of treatment include;
- Applying heat to the affected area.
- Elevating the leg with the use of a leg elevation pillow.
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.
- Compression stockings.
While superficial venous thrombosis (SVT) goes away within 2-3 weeks on its own and may not be as severe as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it is still essential to treat it. Treatment will help to avoid later complications of having it develop into a more serious medical problem.
When it comes to the health of your body, knowledge is power. Another source of power is knowing the benefits of a treatment method. Here are a few benefits of using deep vein thrombosis compression stockings.
Ten benefits of DVT compression stockings
- Prevents the pooling of blood in your legs.
- It improves blood flow and boosts circulation in your legs.
- It provides support for your veins.
- It helps to prevent and treat deep thrombosis in the legs.
- It helps to ease the pain of varicose veins.
- Compression stockings can reduce hypotension, known to cause light-headedness when standing up.
- It helps to reverse venous hypotension.
- Assists in diminishing leg swelling.
- Helps to improve lymphatic drainage.
- Aids in the prevention of venous ulcers.
Compression stockings are a non-invasive treatment for deep vein thrombosis and can significantly reduce risk and treat symptoms.
How do compression stockings work?
Compression stockings are specifically designed to apply pressure to your legs and ankles. The applied pressure from compression stockings is meant to;
- Help Blood flow to the heart.
- Help to prevent blood flow from pooling in the feet or superficial veins.
- Increases the velocity and volume of blood flow by reducing the diameter of major veins.
What are the different types of compression stockings?
There are generally three types of compression stockings. These are;
- Graduated compression stockings are designed for mobility and to meet specified length and strength medical specifications. This type of compression stockings level of compression is the tightest at the ankle and gently decreases towards the top.
- Anti-embolism stockings are also used to reduce the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis. The compression level for this stocking is different and known as gradient compression. These stockings are, however, used for immobile people.
- Unlike the first two, nonmedical support hosiery stockings typically do not require a prescription and do not need to be fitted. The nonmedical support hosiery stockings exert less pressure and can be purchased online or at a pharmacy without a prescription.
If you’re like the rest of us, you’re most likely wondering if there are any side effects to wearing DVT stockings. Here’s the lowdown.
Side-Effects Of Deep Vein Thrombosis compression stockings
As with most treatments, side effects are often part and parcel of your recovery journey. Below are a few side effects you should be aware of. Be sure to check your skin daily for signs of irritation, redness, or swelling, as these may indicate the following;
- An allergic reaction to the stocking material.
- A possible infection.
- May suggest that your stockings are not fitted properly.
- Not putting on your stockings correctly or taking proper care of them.
Treating DVT with compression stockings is essential for the good health of your legs and veins. Choosing the right pair of DVT stockings to suit your medical needs will make all the difference in treating and alleviating symptoms of DVT.
Now that we’ve covered all you need to know about DVT and the difference between deep vein thrombosis and superficial venous thrombosis, it is time to introduce you to our range of deep vein compression stockings.
Here at Solidea, South Africa, we offer a wide range of high-quality graduated compression stockings that are explicitly made to suit your medical needs while providing treatment, support and a solution to your DVT medical needs.
Maintain the health of your legs and veins while investing in a non-invasive medical treatment that will help treat your condition and do so in style and comfort. And that is the gist of it. DVT is a serious medical condition that can have devastating effects if left unchecked or untreated. Luckily, we’ve covered all you need to know while providing you with the best possible solutions to treat and manage DVT at home using our DVT Stockings!