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How can you tell if deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and thrombophlebitis is causing your legs to swell?

ANSWER

Here are some common reasons your leg may be swollen:

If you have DVT, it means there's a blood clot in a vein in your leg. It could break off and travel to your lung. When that happens, it's called a pulmonary embolism, and it can be life-threatening.

In thrombophlebitis, also called superficial thrombophlebitis, clots form closer to the surface of the skin and aren't likely to break off.

One of the first symptoms of DVT or thrombophlebitis is a swollen leg, as blood pools in the area. Check with your doctor right away if you have swelling in one leg or any of these other symptoms:

  • Leg pain, tenderness, or cramping
  • Skin that's tinged red or blue
  • Skin that feels warm

SOURCES:

Alicia Groft, MD, associate professor of medicine, Dartmouth Medical School.

CDC: "National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet."

Ely, J.W. , March-April 2006. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

March of Dimes: "Swelling."

Mayo Clinic: “Leg Swelling.”

National Blood Clot Alliance: "Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots." 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure?"

National Institutes of Health: "Varicose Veins and Venous Insufficiency."

Nationwide Children's Hospital: "Swelling: The Body's Reaction to Injury."

Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum on May 3, 2018

SOURCES:

Alicia Groft, MD, associate professor of medicine, Dartmouth Medical School.

CDC: "National Chronic Kidney Disease Fact Sheet."

Ely, J.W. , March-April 2006. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

March of Dimes: "Swelling."

Mayo Clinic: “Leg Swelling.”

National Blood Clot Alliance: "Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots." 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure?"

National Institutes of Health: "Varicose Veins and Venous Insufficiency."

Nationwide Children's Hospital: "Swelling: The Body's Reaction to Injury."

Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum on May 3, 2018

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How can you tell if pregnancy is causing your legs to swell?

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