Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one of the veins in the body, usually in the lower legs, and then travels to the lungs, where it becomes lodged in a blood vessel. PE is a serious condition that can cause long-term damage to the lungs and can even be fatal if not properly treated. The symptoms of pulmonary embolism can vary depending on the size of the clot and the extent of the damage it causes, but there are several common symptoms to look out for.
Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath is one of the most common symptoms of pulmonary embolism. It may feel like you can’t catch your breath or like you are suffocating. The shortness of breath may come on suddenly or gradually worsen over time.
Chest pain: Chest pain is another common symptom of pulmonary embolism. It may feel like a sharp, stabbing pain or a dull ache. The pain may be worse when you take a deep breath, cough, or move around.
Cough: A cough is another symptom of pulmonary embolism. The cough may be dry or productive, meaning that you may cough up blood or mucus.
Rapid heartbeat: A rapid heartbeat, also known as tachycardia, is another symptom of pulmonary embolism. Your heart may feel like it is racing or pounding in your chest.
Dizziness or fainting: Dizziness or fainting is another symptom of pulmonary embolism. This can occur if the clot is large and blocks blood flow to the brain.
Fever: A fever may be present in some cases of pulmonary embolism, especially if there is an infection present.
Leg swelling: Leg swelling is a common symptom of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a condition that can lead to pulmonary embolism. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins in the body, usually in the legs. If you have DVT, you may experience pain, warmth, redness, and swelling in one or both legs.
Blue or purple discoloration of the skin: Blue or purple discoloration of the skin, also known as cyanosis, may occur if the clot is large and blocks blood flow to the lungs.
It is important to note that not everyone with pulmonary embolism will experience all of these symptoms. Some people may only have mild symptoms, while others may experience severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away, as pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.