By Enyeribe Ejiogu ([email protected]yahoo.com)
The blood is a specialised kind of fluid that sustains life. That is why it said that the life of the animal is in the blood. Blood is made up three major components: a clear liquid called plasma in the other two are suspended and carried to tissues and organs of the body; blood cells of which there are two types (red blood cells and white blood cells) and the platelets. The platelets help the blood to clot. Clotting stops the blood from flowing out of the body when a vein or artery ruptures or is broken by traumatic force or a cut. The red blood cells which blood its reddish colour carry oxygen to the cells and remove carbon dioxide while the white blood cells help the body to fight off infection.
Generally, the blood plays the major of transporting substances to cells and tissues, required for proper functioning of the body. These include glucose for chemical energy production, hormones and removal metabolic of waste from cells.
Sometimes the blood can form clots naturally and thereby save life by preventing blood from wasting after an artery or vein gets cut. However, a clot may become dangerous and life threatening when it blocks an artery of vein, thereby cutting off blood supply to vital organs and tissues. In such situations it can lead to a medical emergency.
A clot is clump of blood cells and a protein called fibrinogen. Ordinarily, a blood clot helps to reduce or stop bleeding. If it happens internally, it will dissolve as healing progresses. However, the danger comes when the clot forms when it’s not needed. In such situation, it can clog up or completely block a blood vessel.
What causes blot clots?
An unexpected clot can lead to serious problems and even death. In an artery, it can give a person a heart attack or a stroke. If it happens in a vein, the person will feel pain and swelling. A clot deep inside body is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If it happens in the lungs, it is called pulmonary embolism (PE). Both cases are medical emergencies.
How people get clots
A blood clot will form if the person breaks a bone or suffers a serious muscle pull. But sometimes the person may not know why it happened or even realize that a blood clot has formed. Nonetheless, the body gives some signs of blood clot “wahala” and the severity depends on a number of factors. The chances of someone having a clot is higher if the such individual is recovering from surgery or had to sit for many hours on a flight or in a wheelchair; the person is obese or overweight, has diabetes or has high cholesterol level or above 60 years.
Swelling: When a clot slows or stops the flow of blood, it can build up in the vessel and make it swell. If it happens in your lower leg or calf, it’s often a sign of DVT. But you also can have a clot in your arms or belly. Even after it goes away, one in three people still have swelling and sometimes pain and sores from damage to the blood vessel.
Change in skin colour: If a clot plugs up veins in your arms or legs, a fair complexioned person with notice a slightly dark patch of skin around the point of the clot. For a while after the clot dissolves, the skin may still look dark due to death of tissue at that point. On the other hand, pulmonary embolism of the lung will make the skin look pale and clammy, clearly showing that it has been drained of blood.
Pain: Sudden, intense chest pain could mean the clot has broken off and caused a PE. Or it could be a sign that a clot in your artery gave you a heart attack. If so, you also might feel pain in your arm, especially on the left. A clot often hurts where it’s located, like in your lower leg, stomach, or under your throat.
Trouble breathing: This is a serious symptom. It could be a sign that you have a clot in your lung or your heart. Your heart might also race, or you may feel sweaty or faint.
Location of clot: A clot can give different symptoms based on where it is located. A PE can give you a fast pulse, chest pain, bloody cough, and shortness of breath. Get to the hospital right away. You also might have no signs.
If the clot is located in the heart, pain can feel similar to a clot in the lung. But if it’s a heart attack, you also might feel nausea and light-headedness along with the chest pain. Either way, you must be rushed to a good hospital immediately. .
Again, if the clot occurs in the brain, pressure builds because blood can’t flow normally. A severe blockage sometimes can lead to a stroke. Without oxygen from the blood, brain cells start to die within minutes. A clot in your brain can cause headaches, confusion, seizures, speech problems, and weakness, sometimes on just one side of the body.
If the clot occurs in the stomach or belly, it may not show symptoms at all. Blocked veins in the stomach or esophagus, can rip and leak blood. That can hurt a lot. You may poop or vomit blood, and your stool might look black and smell unusually bad.
Blood clot that occurs in the kidneys is also known as renal vein thrombosis (RVT). It usually grows slowly and mostly in adults. You probably won’t have symptoms unless a piece breaks off and lodges in your lung. Rarely, especially in children, it can happen fast and cause nausea, fever, and vomiting. You also might have blood in the urine and feel less frequent urge to urinate.
What to do when you suspect a clot
Please go to see a doctor immediately. The reason is that a clot can be deadly, and you won’t know for sure you have it until you get checked. Your doctor may give you a clot-busting drug or surgically thread a thin tube to the site of the clot to dissolve it.
How prevent blood clots
A person can reduce the chances of having blood clots. First, keep a healthy weight, eat right, and exercise. Also, don’t sit or stay still for long, especially after a long trip or surgery. If you work requires sitting for long a desk, have a habit of getting up and moving about every two hour of less. Stretch your legs, arms, twist and turn regularly. Do bend over and stand straight exercises for about 10 minutes. You can also do push-ups against a chair. Your doctor should also determine whether you will need to take clot-fighting drugs called anticoagulants.
· With additional materials from Wikipedia, medicinenet.com and webmd.com
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