Young and relatively healthy, two young adults from Kwa-Zulu Natal were unexpectedly laid low with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a condition in which an abnormal blood clot forms in the leg or hip.
In each case, the cause was different – showing that it can happen to anyone, and when diagnosed and treated in time, it need not be life threatening.
Mthembu gave birth in 2014 and in 2015 her legs started itching. It was the start of her DVT nightmare, when she was diagnosed by the doctor at CJM Hospital.
Pregnancy may trigger thrombosis
She said from the feedback she received from nurses and doctors, it is suspected that her leg troubles may have started while she was pregnant, but that giving birth triggered her DVT.
Bongani Barry Mswele, on the other hand, was informed by doctors that he had developed DVT because of obesity. His diagnosis came after he started developing swollen legs after walking for long periods.
"Doctors told me that my DVT is called provoked deep vein thrombosis because it was caused by obesity. Ever since I was 10 I was chubby and I ate a lot of fattening foods like amagwinya (fat cakes). I was proud of my nickname Big Show, but now I don't want to be called that any more. Obesity is very much dangerous. It’s hard for me to go wherever I want to go these days. It’s like I am a very old man," the 26-year-old said.
Msweli works as a security guard and spends a lot of time on his feet. His DVT diagnosis came as a shock.
Detect symptoms early
"To me it started as umbandane. It was very itchy one day, and the following day it had spread all over my leg. The next day my legs were swollen, so I went to the hospital where I was diagnosed with DVT. At CJM Hospital I was given some kind of stockings that help me. They told me there is a clot somewhere in my body, but I don’t know where exactly," Mthembu said.
Dr Sifiso Sibiya said there were various causes of DVT, with the elderly being especially at risk if they become immobile.
“Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot – or a thrombus – forms in one or both legs. It can cause pain or swelling. Swollen legs are because of excess fluid in body,” Dr Sibiya explained.
He said treatment could take the form of a diuretic, which is medication to rid the body of excess fluids.
Sibiya said DVT could migrate to the lungs, making it difficult for sufferers to breather, and could also impact on the brain.
He said people concerned about developing DVT should exercise regularly to ensure constant good blood flow to the legs and reduce the chance of blood clots developing.