What is phlebitis?

Phlebitis or thrombophlebitis is swelling of a vein, usually with the presence of large or small blood clots in the vein. There are essentially two types of this condition: superficial phlebitis Y phlebitis either thrombosis venous deep (DVT). Superficial phlebitis is less serious, although it still requires medical treatment. DVT can be a life-threatening condition, as large clots in a vein can break loose, enter the bloodstream, and cause a stroke.

Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis include the following:

  • vein swelling
  • Swelling, redness, and/or tightness of the skin around the vein.
  • Slight fever
  • Burning or uncomfortable feeling around the vein.

Symptoms of DVT may not be present, but in more severe cases, you may notice:

  • Swelling and discomfort of the entire limb in which the vein is located.
  • Fever
  • Tightness, burning and discomfort around the vein.
  • Redness around the vein or redness in the affected limb.

Both superficial and deep venous phlebitis can be caused by the same factors. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Sitting for long periods of time, such as in a car or plane for a long trip
  • Of smoking
  • Birth control pills
  • The pregnancy
  • inactive lifestyle
  • Traumatic injury to a vein.

Treatment of phlebitis in any form is very important. In DVT, it is vital that the clots are broken, either through medications inserted into the veins to break up the clot or by taking oral medications such as aspirin to help prevent further clotting. The same treatment can also be used for superficial phlebitis. Also, the use of compression at the site can help both types, as can the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. DVT may require hospitalization and surgery to remove blood clots. In both conditions, patients will be counseled about lifestyle choices that may be causing the condition.

Most patients are asked to eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise more, and are asked to quit smoking if they do. If patients are healthy in most respects but take hormonal contraceptives, they will be counseled about other methods that do not carry this risk. It is also important that patients do not remain sedentary for long periods of time, especially if they have had DVT. If they plan to travel by plane or take long car rides, they should also plan to get up and stretch their legs every hour or so to make sure blood clots don't form in their legs.

Although swelling in superficial veins is uncomfortable and requires treatment, it can also provide a warning to patients that their lifestyle may be significantly affecting their health. This early form may mean that a person will progress to DVT later on. Therefore, immediate attention is needed to help find and eliminate the cause, when possible, so that a person can lower their risk of stroke.

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