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What are the warning signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis?

I just started taking birth control, which I know can increase the chances of blood clots. I also have spider veins. I'm wondering if having spider veins will increase my risk of blood clots with the birth control? Are blood clots the same thing as Deep Vein Thrombosis? What are the warning signs of blood clots and/or DVT?

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Doctors Answers (3)

Spider veins will not increase the risk of DVT. Warning signs of DVT are leg pain and swelling. A DVT is a blood clot in a deep vein.

Spider veins are tiny veins in the upper layers of the skin measuring less than 1mm in diameter. They do not increase the risk of blood clots in the veins. Blood clots in the veins of the skin and fatty layer under the skin result in inflammatory changes with pain, tenderness, and sometimes redness of the skin called superficial thrombophlebitis. Blood clots in the veins within the muscle cause Deep Vein Thrombosis which usually is the more serious problem, since blood clots forming in the large veins of the leg may migrate with the blood flow into the lungs causing blockage of blood flow from the heart through the lungs. This condition called "pulmonary embolism" is the most common cause of unexpected hospital death. Deep vein thombosis may cause very mild to severe pain in the lower extremity, usually associated with a new onset of leg swelling. Pulmonary embolism may present with a sudden severe shortness of breath or a new onset of sharp chest pain when breathing. It is important for anyone who develops a sudden unexplained shortness of breath or new unexplained chest pain to get to an emergency room for prompt evaluation.

Birth control pills can increase your Deep Vein Clot risk especially if you have a family history of clots, varicose veins, etc. Staying well-hydrated, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, and diet all can help reduce the risks. DVT may be silent with no symptoms or signs. However, swelling in one limb, pain in the calf, red/blue change of color can all be signs of DVT and require urgent care in the ER. If a DVT is present, the clot may break off and go to the lungs (pulmonary embolus). Wearing a compression stocking when immobilized such as flying or car travel is advisable.

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