When you think of blood clots, you probably think of people who sit for long periods of time or have surgery. I developed a blood clot when I was 22 years old and it had nothing to do with sitting, surgery, or smoking. Blood clots can happen to anyone and you need to know how to arm yourself against them so it doesn’t happen to you.
At the time, I was a college student and was working a part-time job at an auto parts store. I stood on my feet for most of my shift but tried to move around when I could. One day I felt a sharp pain in my thigh that was worse when I was standing up. I also noticed a reddened line on my leg that was warm to the touch and firm. The pain continued to get worse over several days, so I decided to go to the doctor. I found out that I had a superficial blood clot in my leg. I had to put heat on the area and rest it to make it go away. The doctor also immediately took me off of my birth control pills and ran multiple blood tests to check my clotting factors. I do not smoke and they were never able to find anything abnormal, but I am no longer allowed to be on any medication that has estrogen in it.
What to look for
Birth control pills can put you at risk for blood clots and smoking can increase this risk. In my case, I do not smoke but I do have decreased circulation in my legs. Knowing the signs and symptoms of clots and how to prevent them could have saved me from getting a clot. The main signs and symptoms are tenderness, redness, swelling, or an area that is hot to the touch. It also does not get better with rest or pain medicine.
Preventing a blood clot
There are ways to decrease your risk of blood clots. Using birth control that contains progesterone only such as the mini-pill can prevent blood clots. Also, if you have a job where you stand in one place make sure to move or pump your ankles like you are pushing the gas. Try to do this about every 5-10 minutes. Take a break from your desk or station about every 30 minutes and walk around. Keeping physically active in your free time can also help because it increases your blood circulation. If you have issues with circulation such as varicose veins, you can buy compression hose at any drug store to wear at work. These really help and make your legs feel less tired after a long day.
These prevention measures along with knowing what to look for can keep your veins healthy and blood-clot free. Blood clots can be serious and travel to your lungs. Please see a health care professional if you think you may have a blood clot.