Signs You Have A Blood Clot And Don’t Even Know It

A blood clot can save the day when you cut yourself because it prevents you from bleeding too much, but blood clots can also become life-threatening when they don't dissolve. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, "As many as 100,000 people die of blood clots each year," …

By Sarah Biren | Guest Writer  

When you get a wound — whether it’s a paper cut, a nick from shaving, a deep scratch — blood clots appear to stem the bleeding. By definition, a blood clot is blood partially solidified in a blood vessel. After it helps a wound, it naturally breaks up. However, sometimes blood clots could refuse to break up or form in unwanted places.

When this happens, serious medical conditions could occur. Blood clots could appear anywhere in the body. People may get them into their legs after sitting too long, or in their arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke. When caught early, medical treatment could curb potential damage or even prevent death. Therefore, it’s important to know the symptoms of a blood clot depending on the area of the body.

Signs of Blood Clots All Over the Body

In the Limbs

When a blot clot forms in the veins of an arm or leg, it could be a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT could be dangerous because the clot could travel to the lungs or heart. People who are inactive are at higher risk of getting DVT, like if they are recovering after surgery or sitting during a long flight. Seek medical help immediately if you notice any of these signs in your arms or legs: swelling (that doesn’t get better with elevation), red or blue-tinged skin, itchiness, pain, warm skin, bulging and painful varicose veins, cramps in the lower leg, trouble breathing, and pitting edema — which means when you press on the swelling, it leaves a dimple or “pit” that lasts a few seconds. If these signs last for more than one or two days, contact your doctor or go to the emergency room. [1]

In the Lungs

A blood clot in the lungs usually begins with DVT. When it travels to the lungs, the condition is called pulmonary embolism, and it’s extremely dangerous. Get immediate help if you have chest pain, feel dizzy, cough up blood, have rapid heart rate, sweat profusely, and feel short of breath or have difficulty breathing.

It may feel like a shooting pain that starts in your front and travels to the back in the chest area,” says vascular medicine specialist Michael Tran, DO. “You may also feel chest heaviness or pressure that lasts. If it’s just fleeting, goes away and doesn’t happen again, you’re probably not dealing with a blood clot.” [2]

In the Heart

A blood clot forming in or around the heart may cause a heart attack. Seek help if you feel severe pain in your chest and left arm, are sweating profusely, and have trouble breathing. Other symptoms include jaw pain, racing heart, light-headedness, and sometimes, abdominal pain, and nausea or vomiting.

In the Belly

Conditions like diverticulitis or liver disease could cause blood clots to form in the veins around the intestines. Even some birth control pills could be responsible for this. The symptoms include severe abdominal pain sometimes worsened by eating, a bloated feeling, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea, and bloody stools.

In the Brain

Blood clots in the brain could be from an injury that caused a concussion, or from fatty deposits in the walls of blood vessels, or from a clot that began in another body part then travelled to the brain. A clot in the brain could lead to a stroke. So be wary of symptoms like weakness and fatigue (especially on one side of the body), problems with vision and speech, a seizure, paralysis, confusion, trouble walking, loss of balance, and sudden and severe headaches. If these symptoms came and went suddenly, still seek emergency care. You may of had a mini-stroke, and there may still be a blood clot to treat. [3]

In the Kidneys

Blood clots in the kidneys could prevent the organs from eliminating waste properly, which could cause high blood pressure or even kidney failure. Look for signs like fever, nausea or vomiting, high blood pressure, bloody urine, pain in the side of the belly or legs, sudden leg swelling, and issues breathing.

How to Prevent Blood Clots

Keep in mind, that some clots have few or no symptoms at all, which makes them even more dangerous because they can go untreated while still severely damaging the body. Early diagnosis is imperative to prevent lasting damage and even death. So if you suspect you may have one, don’t hesitate in seeking medical assessment. As an overall rule, blood clot symptoms don’t come and go; they stay and often worsen.

As many as 100,000 people die as a result of blood clots every year. [4] Blood clots can happen to anyone but they are also generally preventable. However, they rarely occur in young, healthy people. You are more likely to get one if you can’t move around much (like after a medical procedure or while hospitalized), smoke, are overweight, use combined hormonal contraceptives, are pregnant or recently gave birth, are over 65 years old, have family history of blood clots, have cancer, have an inflammatory condition like arthritis or Crohn’s disease, or have previously had a blood clot.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent them from occurring. If you are hospitalized, your care team will advise you on how to prevent them, which may involve taking medication or wearing socks to increase blood flow. Otherwise, staying active, even taking walks on the regular, could decrease your risk. Drink water and avoid getting dehydrated. If you’re overweight, try to lose weight, ideally with professional guidance. Plus, if you’re taking long flights, get stockings to increase circulation from your local pharmacy. Meanwhile, avoid smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and sitting for long periods of time. [5]


  1. “Blood Clot Symptoms: How to Tell if You Have One.” WebMD. James Beckerman, MD, FACC. June 17, 2020
  2. “6 Blood Clot Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore.” Cleveland Clinic. February 25, 2022
  3. “How to Tell If You Have a Blood Clot.” Healthline. December 1, 2021
  4. “Venous Thromboembolism (Blood Clots).” CDC. June 9, 2022
  5. “Blood clots.” NHS. February 16, 2021

About the Author

Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.

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