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 Health Hint #71
Phlebitis: How to Get Back on Your Feet
Excerpted from "A Year of Health Hints"
365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer

When former President Richard Nixon suffered a severe case of phlebitis, it made newspaper headlines. The medical term for his condition is thrombophlebitis: A blood clot forms in a vein of the legs (usually)and the vein becomes inflamed. It is more common in women than in men.

Superficial phlebitis affects the veins visible just beneath the skin surface. People who have varicose veins are susceptible, and the affected area will be red and swollen and feel warm, hard, and tender to the touch. It can usually be treated at home.

Deep vein thrombophlebitis requires hospitilization and treatment with blood thinning medication to prevent an embolism from forming. If a blood clot breaks away from the wall of a vein (forming an embolism), it can interfere with the circulation to the limb, or cause death if it reaches the heart or lung. The only symptom may be an aching pain in the limb, but half of those with deep vein thrombophlebitis have no symptoms. It often develops after prolonged bed rest, major surgery, pregnancy, or use of birth control pills.

Other conditions that can lead to phlebitis of either kind include:

General inactivity (from a sedentary job or prolonged trip by car or plane)
Smoking or chewing tobacco
Being overweight
Trauma to the leg (from a blow or fall)
Injury to the vein (from injections or intravenous needles)
Some malignancies
Advancing age

Only a doctor can distinguish the difference between the two. If you're diagnosed as having superficial phlebitis, you'll probably be told to:

Rest the affected limb and elevate it above the level of your heart until the pain and
swelling subside.
Apply moist heat to the affected area for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.
Use aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.
Avoid bed rest.

To prevent thrombophlebitis:

Avoid prolonged periods of uninterrupted sitting or standing.
Avoid taking birth control pills.
Never sit with your legs crossed.
Avoid wearing garters, knee-high hosiery, or other stockings that restrict blood flow in the
Wear properly fitting elastic stockings made to help blood flow.
If you're confined to bed, try this: With your feet against a pillow, pretend you're pressing on a
gas pedal and then releasing it. Alternate with one foot, then the other.
Exercise your legs at least every hour or two on long auto or airplane trips.

 About The Author
This article has been taken from Healthier at Home® – Your Complete Guide to Symptoms, Solutions & Self-Care, a book published by......more
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