Phlebitis or thrombophlebitis is a condition where the blood vessels becomes reddish and swollen and can develop clots. This is more likely to occur in superficial veins close to the surface than the deep seated ones. In certain situations like childbirth and surgery deep veins can develop in the legs or pelvis. Due to this condition, the veins become hard and the area is often painful. With time, this condition can spread to other areas like the lung and can get complicated.
The cause for developing phlebitis includes poor circulation, use of certain drugs or use of intravenous catheter, due to vein damage, or even due to long periods of inactivity in cramped spaces. Other causes include obesity, smoking or varicose veins. Inflammation of blood vessels can also occur without the development of clots, with the use of intravenous drugs and is known as chemical phlebitis. If it develops due to the use of a catheter it is known as mechanical phlebitis.
Phlebitis can be detected by examining the veins and doing an ultrasound. Sometimes the patient may develop a fever .Usually it takes a few days for the inflammation to subside, but if it gets complicated, it needs medical attention. It can be treated by using warm packs, or also by certain medications or blood thinners.
Serious symptoms like shortness of breath, increased and sharp pain or lumps and swelling in the legs is a sign that you should seek medical attention immediately.
There are preventive measures that you can take to prevent phlebitis. Avoid sitting for long hours. Regular exercise is good for blood circulation and avoids clot formation. Especially while flying long distances, make sure you walk and stretch your legs at regular intervals. Compression stocking can also help regulate blood flow. Sometimes taking medications is the only way out to prevent this condition and you should consult your physician for medical advise.