What is it?
Phlebitis means inflammation of a vein. Thrombophlebitis is due to one or more blood clots in a vein that cause inflammation.
In most cases, phlebitis often occurs in the legs. It can be superficial if the inflamed vein is near the surface of the skin, or deep if it affects a deeper vein.
There are several risk factors for phlebitis:
- Cigarette smoking;
- Sedentary lifestyle;
- Several injections through the vein;
- Contraceptive pills in women;
- Varicose veins;
- Blood clotting disorders.
There are several causes for phlebitis:
- Disorders of the lymphatic system;
- Prolonged immobility;
- Use of NSAID and cortisone drugs.
Mechanism of action and classification
Phlebitis involves inflamation of the tunica intima of a vein.
- Thrombophlebitis is an inflammatory process that causes a blood clot to form and block one or more veins.
- Mechanical phlebitis occurs where the movement of a foreign object within a vein causes friction and subsequent venous inflammation
- Chemical phlebitis is caused by the drug or fluid being infused through the cannula.
- Bacterial phlebitis is due to the presence of infectious bacteria.
- Superficial phlebitis affects the superficial area of the skin. It is not very dangerous, but it is very painful.
- Deep vein phlebitis refers to inflammation of a deeper, larger vein, such as those found in your legs. Deep vein phlebitis is more likely to be caused by a blood clot, which can have very serious consequences.
The most common symptoms of phlebitis are:
- Muscle soreness;
- Sensation of heat;
- Infection of the skin in the affected area;
- Difficulty breathing;
A phlebologist can help dignose the type or severity of the phlebitis with the help of some tests:
- A Doppler ultrasound is a noninvasive test that can be used to estimate the blood flow through your blood vessels;
- Imaging test;
- CT scan;
- Magnetic resonance.
The most common drugs to teat phlebitis are:
- Anticoagulants such as warfarin or heparin, with a fluidifying action;
- Analgesics with pain relieving action.
Surgery is required above all for deep vein phlebitis and drug effectiveness.
Surgical treatment options include:
- A vena cava filter is a metal device used to prevent blood clots. The surgeon guides the filter to the inferior vena cava (IVC), a large vein that transports blood from lower body to the heart.
- A thrombectomy is an innovative surgical procedure used to remove blood clots from arteries and veins.
Superficial thrombophlebitis is usually a short-term condition, as symptoms generally subside in few weeks, while recovery from deep vein thrombophlebitis can take months.
The main tips to folow to to prevent Phlebitis are:
- Avoid sedentary lifestyle;
- Practice leg exercises;
- Avoid smoking;
- Maintain a healthy weight;
- Wear compression stockings;
- Stop drinking alcohol.
Herbal supplements and alternative medications can be excellent for preventing or alleviating phlebitis:
- Horse chestnut is rich in flavonoids and tannins. It helps improve vein health and reduce inflammation.
- Butcher’s Broom has an anti-inflammatory and astringent action. It regulates the muscle tone of the vessels of the lower limbs and is excellent for edema and phlebitis.
- The essential oil of cypress counteracts the accumulation of liquids in the tissues and helps the microcirculation.
- Mastic essential oil has antispasmodic actions and is therefore excellent for fighting tissue edema.
- Gotu kola has phlebotonic and vasoprotective properties.
- Ginkgo biloba has phlebotonic and vasoprotective properties, excellent for thrombophlebitis.
- The red vine is rich in flavonoids and anthocyanins, with a phlebo-tonic and vasoprotective action.
- Blueberry reduces vascular fragility and helps microcirculation.
Diet and nutrition
A healthy diet will help manage the weight as it helps control inflammation and blood pressure, two things that affect chances to develop phlebitis
Prefer fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, or those rich in flavonoids or anthocyanins with a blue and purple color. Remember that anthocyanins and flavonoids are excellent for swollen legs and ankles.
The consumption of fruit and vegetables is extremely important for phlebitis patients. They are rich mineral salts such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, excellent for improving blood circulation.
It is advisable to remove table salt, the main responsible for water retention, milk and derivatives, cured meats and packaged foods.
Prefer the consumption of fish with anti-inflammatory and detoxifying action over the consumption of red or white meat.
Drink at least 2 liters of water per day.