Health Care and Phlebitis

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: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03146/Phlebitis.html
.


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



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



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.



Superficial
phlebitis inflammation
generally 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:  http://www.diagnose-me.com/symptoms-of/phlebitis-thrombophlebitis.html
.


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.