Health Care and Phlebitis

- January 07, 2015
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When individuals have medical issues with veins that get inflamed, the pain can be severe. Inflammation of veins is called phlebitis. Typically, it is not life threatening if treated right away and can be easily cured in many cases. The inflammation may cause pain and swelling.
Superficial phlebitis affects veins on the skin surface. The condition is rarely serious and is usually resolved with local treatment of the inflammation with warm compresses and anti-inflammatory medications.

However, more severe cases of inflammation in veins may be caused by a blood clot. When the inflammation is caused by a blood clot or thrombus, it is called thrombophlebitis and usually occurs in leg veins; but it may also affect the veins in the arms. There are two sets of veins in the arms and legs, 1) the superficial veins that run just under the skin, and 2) the deep veins.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, symptoms depend on the location of the inflammation. Superficial phlebitis can cause symptoms such as:

·         Redness along the path of the vein
·         Warmth, tenderness, or swelling in affected area
·         Itching or burning in affected area
·         Low-grade fever.

These symptoms may feel worse when the affected area (such as a leg) is lowered, particularly in the morning. Superficial phlebitis is uncomfortable but rarely serious. If clotting occurs, the inflamed vein will feel like a hard string or cord under the skin, and won't collapse like a normal varicose vein.

Deep vein thrombophlebitis often causes no symptoms at all. When it does, symptoms include warmth, redness, and swelling in the affected limb. Deep vein thrombophlebitis is dangerous because the blood clot lodged in the vein (called a deep venous thrombosis or DVT) can break free and travel to a person's lungs, a situation that is often fatal. Chest pain and shortness of breath are early signs that this has occurred. Much more detail on this topic can be found at this website:

The following, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), increase your chances for thrombophlebitis:

·         Being hospitalized for a major surgery or with a major illness
·         Disorders that make you more likely to develop blood clots
·         Sitting for a long period of time (such as on a long airplane trip)

Your health care provider can usually diagnose the condition based on how the affected area looks. You may need to have your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, skin condition, and circulation frequently checked to make sure you don't have complications. If the cause cannot be easily identified, one or more of the following tests may be done:

·         Blood coagulation studies
·         Doppler ultrasound
·         Venography

Thrombophlebitis and other forms of phlebitis usually respond to prompt medical treatment, according to the NIH. More detailed material can be found by visiting this site:

According to New York University (NYU) Medical School, some factors that increase your chance of developing superficial phlebitis include:

·         Trauma especially to the lower leg
·         Blood clotting disorder
·         Sitting for long periods of time, such as riding in a car or on an airplane
·         Prolonged bed rest
·         Prior episodes of phlebitis
·         Certain cancers
·         Paralysis, which may be caused by a stroke
·         Family history of blood clotting disorders
·         Obesity
·         Pregnancy

If you are diagnosed with superficial thrombophlebitis, follow your doctor's instructions. More info on this medical problem can be found at this site:

The long-term goals of treatment of superficial phlebitis are to reduce symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Your health care provider will recommend the treatment option that is right for you, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The main goal of initial treatment is to control pain and inflammation. You will likely be prescribed pain medication and an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.

Rarely is anticoagulation with medications such as Coumadin or Heparin warranted. Much of this process is self-limited, with complete resolution of symptoms within a few weeks. You can find more info about phlebitis at this site:

Superficial phlebitis inflammationgenerally is reduced within 7-10 days, but it may be 3-6 weeks for the problem to be entirely gone. Deep vein thrombophlebitis may require more aggressive treatment, including hospitalization, strong anticoagulants, and a variety of possible surgical procedures, according to this site:

If you feel that you may be suffering from symptoms related to phlebitis, see your doctor or a health care provider right away. You don’t want to delay treatment as the issue may be beyond your immediate relief by self examination and care at home without medical diagnosis. The condition can quickly escalate to more severe medical issues. Although, phlebitis is a temporary problem, it pays to be careful with treatment and professional medical advice.  

Until next time.
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