A blood clot is a clump of blood that changes from a liquid state to a solid state. In most cases, blood clots are good. For instance, when someone is wounded, a blood clot will form a scab on the cut to stop the bleeding. However, it can be dangerous when there is a blood clot in the leg.
When blood clots form in the deep veins of your leg (i.e. groin, thigh or calf area), it is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It interferes with the blood flow and can result in serious health conditions such as a pulmonary embolism. This occurs when a blood clot travels toward the lungs and blocks the pulmonary artery, preventing the lungs from receiving oxygenated blood.
Blood Clot in the Leg Symptoms: Warning Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis
A blood clot in the leg can be the result of a number of factors, including sitting immobile for a long period of time, or traveling on a bus or a plane with little opportunity to walk around and stretch your legs. Here are common warning signs that you may have a dangerous blood clot in the deep veins of your leg:
- Warm skin: Blood clotting often causes a temperature change. With leg clots, the skin near the affected area may increase in temperature and become tingly and warm. Warm skin is usually accompanied with other symptoms, including throbbing and itchiness.
- Redness: Slight discoloration of the skin in the affected area is one of the primary symptoms of a blood clot deep in a vein—this is due to collections of blood beneath the surface of the skin becoming more visible.
- Fainting: Dizzy or fainting spells may occur if the body cannot dissolve the blood clot naturally, on its own, or if it detaches and begins to travel to the lungs. When this occurs, you may find it difficult to breathe and experience a fainting spell.
- Swelling: Painful swelling may occur on the site of the clot, especially if it develops in the ankle, calf or leg area. The increased bone and tissue densities in these areas make it difficult for the body to naturally clear the clot. A sure sign that the swelling is clot-related is that it doesn’t respond to typical treatments such as hot or cold compresses.
- Fatigue: A blood clot will force the body’s defense system to work overtime, which can result in exhaustion or fatigue. Fatigue is not a root cause of deep vein thrombosis, so be sure to be on the lookout for other blood clot symptoms if you are feeling tired.
- Increased heart rate: As the leg clot begins to grow in size, the body will attempt to eliminate it and vital organs such as the heart will pump and work harder, resulting in an increased heart rate. If the blood clot travels to other parts of the body, you may also experience stabbing chest pains which can be painful with deep breathing.
- Tenderness: Despite the clot being deep in the leg, it may become tender to touch, with no evidence of bruising on the surface of the skin. The veins below the skin in the affected area may become visible through the skin as well, although this is less likely if the clot is smaller in size. Tenderness may occur in both legs, even if only one leg contains a blood clot. This is because you are unintentionally favoring your stronger leg, which may trigger joint and muscle strain.
- Fever: If a blood clot detaches and enters the blood stream, you may experience a mild or low grade fever. Aside from elevated body temperature, you may also experience shivering, sweating, a constant headache, dehydration, body weakness, and loss of appetite. In severe cases, usually when the body’s core temperature is between 103 and 106 degrees Fahrenheit, you may experience confusion, mood disturbances, hallucinations and convulsions.
- Distended veins: Stubborn blood clots will often show themselves through distention in surface veins in or around the affected area of the leg. In most cases distended veins do not cause complications, but if the blood clot is placing significant pressure on surrounding blood vessels, it may rupture and cause redness and bruising.
Home Remedies for Treating a Blood Clot in the Leg
- Healthy weight: Obesity results in the deposition of fat on the walls of blood vessels, which can increase the chances of clots and other health concerns.
- Walking/regular exercise: Physical activity will keep the blood flowing through the body and help dissolve blood clots.
- Ginkgo: Ginkgo is a herb that reduces fibrin content, a protein substance that acts like a bond to hold blood clots together.
- No smoking: When smoking, carbon monoxide replaces oxygen to the starved muscles that surround the veins.
- Onion and garlic: Onions and garlic will help reduce fibrin content of the body and help prevent the clumping of platelets—components that help the clotting process.
- Massage: A massage will stimulate blood flow to the affected area, reducing the chances of blood clots in that specific spot.
- Hydrotherapy: Placing heat packs or ice packs to the affected area will keep the blood flowing and help dissolve the clot.
- Ginger, bilberry, and turmeric: All three reduce the chances of platelets clumping, which can lead to blood clot formation.
It can be dangerous when you experience deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the leg. Once you recognize the symptoms of a blood clot in the leg, you can try one of the home remedy treatments listed above. Make sure to speak to your doctor first before embarking on new treatments.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Home Remedies for Blood Clots,” Organic Facts web site, https://www.organicfacts.net/home-remedies/blood-clots.html, last accessed November 5, 2015.
Fleet, A., “10 Signs You May Have a Blood Clot in Your Leg,” activebeat.co, June 3, 2015; http://www.activebeat.co/your-health/10-signs-you-may-have-a-blood-clot-in-your-leg/.
“Blood Clot in Leg (DVT/Deep Vein Thrombosis) Symptoms, Tests, Diagnosis and Treatment,” INRTracker web site, http://inrtracker.com/articles/medical-conditions/blood-clot-in-leg-dvt-deep-vein-thrombosis-signs-symptoms-tests-diagnosis-treatment, last accessed November 5, 2015.