Deep vein thrombosis -- a blood clot in a deep vein, often in your leg -- can look like many other health problems. And half the time, DVT causes no symptoms.
If you're over 60, you smoke, you're overweight, or you sit for long periods of time, your risk for the condition is higher -- so stay alert for some possible signs of a problem. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you think you might have DVT.
The biggest danger is that part of the clot could break off and travel to your lungs. It could cause a blockage known as a pulmonary embolism, or PE. Your doctor will talk to you about how likely that is to happen with your clot.
2. Are you sure I have a DVT? How is it diagnosed?
People with a deep-vein clot in their leg usually have swelling, pain, tenderness, or redness in one leg, but sometimes both.
Your doctor will do a physical exam. He'll also send you for an ultrasound to see how blood is flowing through your veins. He may use other imaging tests and blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.
You can get a clot when you're sitting still for hours, like on a long plane ride or car trip. One can form after surgery and a long hospital stay. Women who take hormones such as estrogen in birth control pills or after menopause are more likely to get a clot.
You should talk to your doctor to figure out what led to yours.
4. How will you treat my DVT?
Your doctor will likely start by giving you shots of heparin. It's a kind of drug called a blood thinner that makes it harder for your blood to clot. Then, you may need to take blood thinner pills, such as apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), edoxaban (Savaysa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), or warfarin (Coumadin). If you take warfarin, you'll need to get your blood checked often, too.
Blood thinners won't break up the clot; your body must do that over time. But they will keep it from getting any bigger and prevent more from forming.
5. How long will I have to stay on blood thinners?
It depends on what caused your clot. Someone who's had DVT typically takes blood thinners for 6 months. If the clot had just one cause, like surgery, and you don't have any other risk factors for DVT, it might be less time. If it was because of an inherited condition or an ongoing (chronic) disease, it could be longer.