Blood Clots And Flying: 5 Tips For Safe Travel With Deep Vein Thrombosis
A blood clot is a dangerous build-up of blood in the veins and arteries. It usually forms in the legs and then it is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Many risk factors can increase the chances of developing DVT including obesity, smoking, and lack of movement.
Sitting through long flights can have an adverse effect on the circulatory system in the legs especially if you have already suffered from a blood clot. Seeing how blood clots can lead to severe consequences, taking precautions while flying can be life-saving.
Risk factors during flight
Traveling by plane is allowed for people with a history of blood clots, although doctors recommend avoiding a flight for four weeks after you have received treatment. Whether or not it is advisable for you to travel on an airplane comes down to three factors:
- information about health history;
- blood clot's location and size;
- duration of the flight.
Weighing the risks should always be done with your physician, but generally speaking, any flights that take longer than four hours should be avoided by people who are suffering from blood clots.
Prevention during flight
Whether or not you have a history of blood clots, it is crucial to take preventive steps if you know you are going to sit for an extended period. For example, when traveling by either plane or a car, remember to wear loose clothing, make enough room for your legs and try not to keep them crossed. Furthermore, there are several ways to keep the risk of developing blood clots at bay.
The origin of the link between sitting and blood clots comes from having the leg bent at the knee for too long. Therefore, walking between the seats in a bus or a plane will restore healthy circulation in the legs. If you are traveling by car, it is advisable to make frequent stops and to stretch your legs by walking for a minute or two. Request an aisle seat on a plane for added space and the possibility to stand up and walk especially on longer flights.
2. Small sitting exercises
Don't let your legs become stiff as the inactivity is very harmful towards the circulatory flow in your legs. The best way to exercise your legs while you are forced to sit in a confined space is to flex the calf muscles. You can do this by keeping the toes on the ground and simultaneously lifting the heels for 20-30 repetitions every half hour.
3. Compression stockings
Compression stockings are frequently prescribed by physicians for patients with deep vein thrombosis. They work by gradually distributing pressure up your legs ending at the knee or even thigh in some cases. The place of the previous clot determines the type and length of the stockings. Consult with your doctor to see if you need compression stockings to improve blood flow.
4. Blood-thinning medicine
Please note that blood-thinning medicine should never be self-prescribed and you should always consult a doctor. However, if the doctor feels that other factors along with the sitting are likely to cause a blood clot, blood thinners may be your best prevention technique.
5. Drink a lot of water.
Dehydration increases the risk of developing a blood clot exponentially as it thickens your blood making it even more susceptible to clotting. Drinking water and staying hydrated are a must when it comes long flights.
Additionally, drinking a lot of water is beneficial for your overall health, and we should all strive to drink the recommended daily dose. Even though people enjoy a drink or two during long trips, try to avoid alcohol as it dehydrates the body and can have adverse effects when combined with blood-thinning medicine.
This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.