British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots
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Donya Spencer was pleased to have her 19-year-old daughter Morgan back home for the weekend. Morgan returned from the University of Georgia in the US, where she was studying economics and pre-law. They were both happy to be reunited but had no idea that Morgan was on the edge of a major health problem.
It all started with a strep-like sore throat that struck the 19-year-old on a Sunday morning.
Strep throat describes a bacterial infection that can make your throat feel sore and scratchy, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This prompted her to go to a nearby urgent care centre. The doctor who treated her said her throat looked and smelled like strep but did not run a strep test.
She was given medicine, called a Z-pack, and returned to university later that afternoon.
By Monday evening, Morgan began feeling very cold and experienced extreme chills and shaking – a condition called rigors.
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Donya decided to go get her and drive her home so she could visit her regular paediatrician on Tuesday morning.
While they were sitting in the waiting room the next morning, Morgan became nauseous.
Her face became pale, her lips turned blue, and she completely lost her vision. She even felt like she was about to pass out.
The paediatrician tested her for flu, mononucleosis, and strep throat, but all her results came back negative.
The doctor sent Morgan home with a steroid medicine and told her to continue the Z-pack, thinking she has some viral infection.
Morgan felt slightly better on Wednesday and didn’t want to miss another day of university so she went back.
On Thursday morning, she couldn’t stop shaking and felt like she was about to pass out. She ended up in the A&E that day but further tests revealed nothing.
Unfortunately, her symptoms kept getting worse, with extreme rigor and pain in her chest, back, and shoulders taking over her body.
It wasn’t until a second trip to the emergency department that she finally got some answers.
The 19-year-old was hit by Lemierre’s syndrome, a rare illness that occurs when bacteria from a throat infection crosses into the jugular veins.
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Her doctors also discovered she had many septic blood clots in her lungs – a condition known as pulmonary embolism.
Morgan had one large blood clot in her internal jugular vein, parts of which had been breaking off into her lungs, causing her upper body pain.
The university student even started coughing up blood – a tell-tale sign of blood clots.
She was transferred to the intensive care unit, where she stayed for three days.
“That was the only time I really thought—I’m going to die,” Morgan told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fortunately, Morgan is doing very well now, despite a lengthy and tough recovery.
Both Morgan and her mum want to spread awareness of this rare condition and urge seeing a doctor “immediately” if you suffer from the symptoms described above.
In Morgan’s case, Lemierre’s syndrome led to the pesky blood clots in her body. However, the gel-like clumps can spur on due to many different reasons.
Remember to watch out for warning signs, including:
- Throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in a leg or arm
- Sudden breathlessness, sharp chest pain (may be worse when you breathe in) and a cough or coughing up blood.
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