Treatment for deep vein thrombosis typically includes taking anticoagulant medication. Doctors may recommend additional practices to lower your risk of developing a blood clot.
DVT can also increase the risk of pulmonary embolism. This life threatening complication occurs when the blood clot breaks off, travels through the blood, and blocks an artery in the lung. Treatment can help reduce this risk.
In addition to taking prescribed medication, you can help treat your symptoms and prevent another blood clot from forming with a few home remedies and lifestyle changes.
The main focus of DVT treatment at home includes:
- taking your prescribed anticoagulant medication safely
- relieving symptoms such as leg pain and swelling
- lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of another blood clot forming
Keep reading to learn how to manage your DVT at home.
Medications for DVT may be available as oral pills or injectable solutions.
A doctor may give you the first dose of an anticoagulant medication while in the hospital. They’ll give you detailed instructions for taking additional doses at home. You may have to take the anticoagulant medication for three to six months, sometimes longer.
Make sure to follow the doctor’s instructions. Taking too much anticoagulant medication like warfarin can thin the blood too much and lead to bleeding problems. Anticoagulant medications can cause severe bleeding.
To avoid bleeding problems, you can follow these steps:
- Prevent injuries or falls, which include avoiding contact sports, wearing protective gear like a helmet, or using a walker or cane.
- Inform doctors about any other medications, supplements, and vitamins you’re taking. Some may interact with anticoagulants.
- Visit a doctor for regular prothrombin time test (PT) tests to monitor your international normalized ratio (INR), or the time it takes for your blood to clot if recommended. This can help make sure you’re receiving the right dose.
- Avoid changing or stopping your medication unless the doctor tells you to.
- Take your medication at the same time each day.
- Call a doctor if you miss a dose.
- Make sure all of the medical professionals treating you know you’re taking anticoagulant medications.
- Eat a balanced diet.
DVT doesn’t always cause symptoms, but some people with the condition can experience leg pain or swelling. The pain tends to occur in the calf and can feel like an intense cramp.
To ease the pain and swelling of a DVT, you can try the following at home:
- Wear graduated compression stockings: These specially fitted stockings are tight at the feet and gradually looser up on the leg, creating a gentle pressure that keeps blood from pooling and clotting.
- Elevate the affected leg: Ensure your foot is higher than your hip.
- Take a walk: Aim for walks three to five times daily to improve blood flow to your legs.
Take caution with aspirin and nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
If you’ve been prescribed anticoagulant medication, a doctor may recommend that you not take aspirin or medications that contain aspirin.
Combining these medications with certain anticoagulants can cause life threatening complications. Ask a doctor if these medications are safe for you before taking them.
A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency
Call 911 or your local emergency services right away if you have any signs of a pulmonary embolism. These can include:
- chest pain that worsens when you cough or breathe deeply
- rapid breathing
- coughing up blood
- fast heart rate
Along with managing your symptoms, it’s important to adjust your lifestyle to prevent DVT from happening again. Certain people may be at a
- people who are having surgery on the lower extremities
- people who are having surgery and may be immobilized afterward
- people who smoke cigarettes
- people with a family history of DVT
- pregnant people
- people who are over 60 years old
Certain lifestyle changes can help prevent DVT or reduce your risk of developing it. These may include:
- quitting smoking, if you smoke
- taking all prescribed medications, including anticoagulants
- wearing compression stockings, especially after surgery or if you’re on bed rest
- maintaining a moderate weight
- drinking fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated
- getting up and moving every
one to two hours, if possible
- changing positions often when seated and avoiding crossing your legs
- flexing your calves
- stopping birth control pills before surgery, if directed to by a doctor
- getting daily exercise
Adding certain herbs to your diet in small amounts is generally safe, but you should avoid taking any herbal or vitamin supplements without first consulting with a doctor. Certain herbs and vitamins can cause dangerous complications when used with certain medications.
The following herbs and supplements may be effective in preventing blood clots:
Ginger may help prevent DVT because it contains an acid called salicylate. Acetyl salicylic acid, which is derived from salicylate and is commonly known as aspirin, is used to prevent stroke. Ginger is a common ingredient in many recipes. You can also make it into tea.
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A compound in turmeric called curcumin is responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antiplatelet properties. Curcumin may help improve the function of the endothelium, or the lining of the blood vessels, and improve its ability to regulate blood pressure and blood clotting.
You can use turmeric as a spice in any recipe or try it in a drink with milk and honey. It’s also available in supplement and extract form.
Cayenne peppers contain high amounts of salicylates. They may help lower blood pressure, thin the blood, and increase circulation. Cayenne peppers can be added to your cooking whole or ground up into a powder. If spicy food isn’t your thing, you can take cayenne pepper supplements in capsule form.
However, like with ginger, more research is needed to determine whether cayenne pepper can help prevent blood clots.
- greens like spinach and kale
Avoid eating very large amounts of leafy green vegetables if you’re taking warfarin. Leafy green vegetables contain vitamin K. Too much vitamin K can lower the effect of warfarin.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may help lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, and inflammation. All of these play a role in preventing blood clots. You can find omega-3s in fish or fish oil supplements.
More research is needed to determine effective doses. Research from 2022 suggests a dose of between
Along with taking the anticoagulant medications prescribed by a doctor, you can manage your DVT risk successfully at home with a few simple lifestyle changes.
DVT is a serious condition. Always follow a doctor’s advice for prevention and treatment, especially if you’re at a higher risk of developing it. If you don’t treat DVT, it can potentially cause a dangerous condition known as pulmonary embolism.
Do not take certain herbal supplements and vitamins with anticoagulant medication. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any signs of abnormal bleeding due to your anticoagulant medication, including: