When your body is injured for instance when cut by a sharp object, the blood oozes out from that area but with time, the blood stops. Have you ever asked yourself why? If you haven’t, we will tell you that platelets and fibrin in your body forms a gel-like mass known as a blood clot, to stop bleeding.
In other words, a blood clot forms to repair damage to a blood vessel, either a vein or an artery. However, blood may also clot inappropriately inside a vein or an artery which may, in the long run, cause significant problems as it affects the blood flow.
We can as well say that just like a traffic jam on a busy highway, blood clots hinder normal circulation in your body, and this can be very dangerous. Blood clotting can occur in your legs and arms, heart, abdomen, kidneys, and brain. According to experts, there are two different types of blood clots.
The first one is the clots that tend to stay in one place without moving, famously known as thrombosis. The second one is the clots that tend to break away from the spot they initially develop on and move to a different spot inside your body, and they are referred to us embolism.
Depending on where the clot moves or what it blocks, the fact remains that clot could be deadly.
Symptoms of blood clotting
There are various blood clotting symptoms which of course differ depending on where they are located in your body. For instance, if the clot is in your legs or arms, you are likely to experience pain, tenderness, and swelling.
Besides, when you touch the place where the clot is located, you’ll realize that it’s warm to touch and when you look at it, redness will be prominent. If the clot is in your abdomen, you are likely to experience vomiting, severe stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Blood clot moving to your heart may cause pain or heavy feeling in your chest, shortness of breath, pain in the upper body, light-headedness, nausea, and sweating. If the blood clot travels to your lungs, you are likely to experience a racing heart, sharp chest pain, fever, sweating, shortness of breath and you may end up coughing blood.
If the blood clot is in your brain, you might experience weakness in your arms, face, or legs, as well as vision and speech problem, dizziness and headache.
According to experts, symptoms of blood clotting are associated with other life-threatening conditions like stroke and heart attacks. Therefore, stay safe and if you suspect blood clot anywhere in your body, seek medical advice without delay.
Causes of a blood clot
When you are cut, your body reacts positively to the injury by clotting your blood and that’s exactly what it should do to prevent excess blood loss.
These types of clots are not a problem but when blood clots without a trigger, it might be due to certain risk conditions or such as;
- Prolonged bed rest especially due to illnesses
- Prolonged sitting particularly when traveling for long periods
- Age especially to those over 60
- Trauma such as serious injury
- Certain cancer types such as multiple myeloma, lung, pancreatic and blood-related cancers
- Some types of major injuries
- Birth control pills/breast cancer medicines/hormone replacement therapy
- Autoimmune disorders
- A family history of blood clots
- Diseases associated with chronic inflammation
- Certain infections such as hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, or Lyme disease
When to see a doctor
It is recommendable to seek emergency care in case you experience the following;
- Cough that produces bloody sputum
- Painful or difficulty breathing
- Pain extending to your arm, back, shoulder or jaw
- A fast heartbeat
- Chest pain or tightness
- Numbness of your arm, face or leg
- Sudden difficulty in understanding or speaking
- Sudden changes in your vision
Diagnosis of a blood clot
Whether you go to an emergency room or a doctor’s office after experiencing the aforementioned signs, your doctor will start by examining your symptoms.
The physicians will ask you several questions about the medical history of your family, your medical history, and the medicines you could be taking if any. From the information you give, the doctor might go ahead and order a blood test which should be taken to the lab for analysis to diagnose an autoimmune system or certain infections.
During the blood test, a small needle is inserted in a vein in your arm to pull out a blood sample. There are different laboratory tests intended to check abnormal blood clotting as well as the presence of antibodies hindering with clotting.
Blood clotting is highly preventable and here are few tips you should keep on your fingertips to reduce developing blood clots;
- Move – If you’ve been on bed rest or you’ve just had surgery, it’s recommendable to get up as soon as you can and move around
- Avoid sitting for too long – People tend to sit for long when traveling. Therefore, for long car trips, it would be a good idea to stop constantly and walk around. If traveling by plane, walk the aisle from time to time
- Drink plenty of fluids especially when traveling – According to experts, dehydration contributes to blood clot development, so you need to drink plenty of fluids such as water
- Change your lifestyle – Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise regularly, and lower high blood pressure
Blood clot treatment
Blood clot treatment varies depending on where it is located, but one thing for sure is that the most common blood clots treatment is the use of oral blood thinner medicines.
There are some medicines given to you by inserting a catheter into the spot of the clot and some clots are removed surgically. If you are pregnant, it’s recommendable to talk to your doctor to determine the right treatment for you, because medicines can pose a risk to your unborn baby.
If you are experiencing a blood clot as a result of an infection, the doctor can excellently treat the infection and lower the risk of a clot.
In a nutshell, blood clots are gel-like blood collections that form in your arteries or veins especially when blood changes from liquid to partly solid. Any time you hurt yourself, it’s the clotting that stops your body from excessive bleeding.
However, blood clots that form in various places without trigger can be dangerous and because it’s mostly caused by what you do every day, you can prevent it by changing your lifestyle. As a rule of thumb, seek medical attention immediately you suspect a blood clot.