Thrombosis and a thrombosed leg: Symptoms and treatment

Many people will sooner or later suffer from thrombosis. In fact, thrombosis is the number one cause of death in the Netherlands. When you have a thrombosis, a blood clot forms in one of your veins. As soon as this blood clot forms in the leg, it is called a thrombosis. This can be very annoying and have major consequences. It is therefore important to quickly recognize the symptoms of a thrombosed leg in order to ensure the correct treatment.

Thrombotic leg symptoms

If a blood clot forms in the leg, the leg becomes swollen and feels warm. The skin of the calf is tight and painful. It is important to go to the hospital immediately with these symptoms to have the leg examined.

Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs)

If you wait too long or do not realize that a blood clot has formed, part of the clot may travel to the lungs. In that case there is a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is very painful and also dangerous. It causes a tight feeling and a stabbing pain in the lungs. If the plug ends up incorrectly, it can even be fatal.

Risk of thrombosis

Anyone can get a thrombosis in the leg or thrombosis in another place in the body. However, a number of risk cases are known. In general, young people do not get thrombosis. However, use of the pill does result in a higher risk of thrombosis, especially in combination with smoking. It rarely happens that young women develop thrombosis as a result, but the chance is always present. Furthermore, old people and pregnant women have a high risk of thrombosis. If thrombosis runs in the family, you have to be extra careful. After flying, a long car journey or a hospital stay of several days, there is also an increased risk of thrombosis.

Treatment with blood thinners

There are no medications to cure a thrombosed leg, but there are medications to prevent a new thrombosis. People with a thrombosed leg are given blood thinners to ensure that another blood clot does not develop. Because the blood is diluted, the resulting blood clot will also slowly disappear. In the beginning you will have to rest a lot to ensure that the plug does not suddenly come loose and end up in the lungs. You will then be able to walk again, but with a support stocking.

Support stockings

The blood clot damages the valves in your vein, making it harder for the blood to flow up your leg. Good support stockings are therefore important. A support stocking is an elastic stocking that fits tightly around the skin so that the blood is pressed up and does not remain in the leg. This reduces the heavy feeling in the leg. You wear support stockings during the day. In principle, they can be taken off at night, because otherwise the pressure on the leg becomes too high. You also take off the stocking while showering.

Postthrombotic syndrome

You wear a support stocking for two years. During those two years, your leg will have the chance to recover. If it isn’t repaired after that, it won’t happen again. In that case there is a post-thrombotic syndrome. This can cause unpleasant complaints such as a heavy and tired feeling in the leg, moisture in the leg, discoloration of the skin or varicose veins. Post-thrombotic syndrome usually develops within two years and affects about 25 to 50 percent of all people with thrombosis. However, wearing support stockings significantly reduces the risk of this.

Thrombosis service

Because you are taking blood thinners, you will also have to go to the thrombosis service. In the beginning, you go here every week to measure the thickness of your blood. When things get better, you can sometimes stay away a little longer. Based on the thickness of your blood, the thrombosis service determines the amount of blood thinners you need to take daily. You will receive a schedule on which you can see exactly how many pills you need to take every day. This schedule is then valid until your next visit. Most people with a thrombosis stay with the thrombosis service for six months to a year. If you have to stay for much longer, you can also consider taking the test yourself. There are courses available for this.

Stay alert

Once you have had a thrombosed leg, you will always have to pay attention. The risk is then greater of developing a thrombosed leg again. So be extra alert at times that already cause an increased risk of thrombosis. For example, if you are taking a long car journey, it is wise to stop regularly and stretch your legs. This is also useful to do during a trip by plane. Are you flying for longer than four hours? Then consult with your doctor about the use of a blood thinner. Pills that thin your blood must be taken well in advance, but you can administer an injection a few hours before the flight. If you want to become pregnant and have ever had a thrombosis, it is also wise to consult your doctor beforehand.

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