As people age their health can often deteriorates, and one of the common ailments that people, particularly women, suffer from is phlebitis. For those of you who don’t know what this is phlebitis is an inflammation, which can form a blood clot in the veins (which is called thrombophlebitis), normally of the lower legs, although it can also occur in the arms. Under most normal circumstances this is not a huge problem and is fairly easily remedied, but sometimes phlebitis or thrombophlebitis can turn into a life threatening situation where huge blood clots break free in the vein and travel up to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolisms, and often enough, death. With the risks being so high it is only natural that people would want to do their best to avoid getting this disease. Before you work yourself into a tizzy worrying about it, take note that there are many things that people can do to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place, and to help it if you already suffer from it.
So, how do you know that you have it? Before we get into the remedies though, we need to talk about how you know you even have it. If you suffer from leg pain, perhaps accompanied with swelling (edema), redness, heat, or varicose veins, you may be at risk for having phlebitis. Your leg or arm may itch profusely, and some people even get ulcerated areas. It is possible that you may suffer from a low fever at this time as well. Often you or your doctor can see the clot right through the skin, and if that isn’t possible, a professional should be able to feel it. If even that is not possible, and your problem is deeper than that, there are many diagnostic tests that can be done to confirm your suspicions. So, if you suspect that you have phlebitis, or even the beginning of it, and it doesn’t spontaneously disappear soon after you first notice it, make sure that you get to a medical practitioner who can handle this problem, and make sure that they follow your progress carefully.
Some of the causes of phlebitis are long term inactivity, post-operative recovery, long plane or car trips, lack of exercise, obesity, cigarette smoking, limb injuries, some cancer treatments, varicose veins, hormone therapy (including birth control pills), and pregnancy.
So the best thing to do is to prevent phlebitis from happening in the first place. Make sure that you keep active, and try to involve yourself with as many different sports as you like. Walk daily, swim, or do any other sport that requires plenty of movement. If your legs normally swell after you have been on them for long periods of time, then you can put them up while you rest, and make sure that you have a hot water soak available whenever you need it after a hard day’s work.
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The good news is that even if you don’t do a single thing, phlebitis will normally rectify itself several days to two weeks after you notice that you have it. You may also want to apply cold packs, or heat (to promote better circulation). If those simple measures don’t help you can also use compression, like elastic stockings, or wraps. There is medication that some conventional medical practitioners will normally prescribe for phlebitis cases, which can include anti-inflammatories and sometimes mild blood thinning medications (like aspirin, for example). Your doctor may even prescribe an antibiotic, if you have an infection in the area.
As for alternative medical treatments, there are many that are quite effective against phlebitis, including the various forms of bodywork (reflexology, acupressure, etc, with aromatherapy being particularly effective, when the appropriate essential oils are used alongside a special type of massage, but it is important NOT to massage the area directly if there are ulcerated (cut) areas). Essential oils like rosemary, peppermint, lavender and others are good for inflammation, swelling, pain, circulation, and the other symptoms that phlebitis sufferers have.
With phlebitis, dietary changes are often recommended, with lots and lots of fiber and natural whole fruits and vegetables included at all meals. Healthy proteins like fish, and organic, free range meat and chicken will help to reduce the swelling and also to provide important nutrition. It is often recommended to eat more cherries, blueberries, and blackberries, because of a special chemicals that are present in these fruits called ” proanthocyanidins and anthocyanidins”, pineapple (since it contains bromelain), and if your diet is lacking, then taking supplements of Folic Acid, B, C, and E and vitamins is important.
There are many herbs that are highly effective against circulation problems such as phlebitis, including: Gingko biloba, Gotu Kola, and butcher’s broom (known scientifically as “Ruscus aculeatus”). You can also apply “curcumin”, which is an agent derived from tumeric, and, if that isn’t available, you can make sure that you eat tumeric in your food, and you can even apply it to the area of the phlebitis or clot. Cayenne is thought to help with circulatory diseases, both internally and externally, and ginger is known to be effective against clot formation and to help general cirulation.
Although phlebitis and thrombophlebitis can be very dangerous, and can even be lethal, just because you have been diagnosed with them doesn’t mean you have a death warrant. There are many things that you can do to help yourself, and the only thing to do is to get started right now! For those of you out there (particularly those of you who are over the age of 40) who are lucky enough not to suffer from any circulatory disorders such as phlebitis, keep healthy, keep moving, eat well, and hopefully you will prevent this from ever happening to you!
Here are some items that will help you keep your circulation at it’s best, in addition to doing reflexology, etc.