July 4, 2014

How to avoid getting a DVT on a flight

Avoiding DVTs

Pic from www.freedigitalphotos.net

They say that sitting on your bum for a journey anywhere from 4 hours has the potential for causing a DVT.

What the heck is a DVT?

It stands for Deep Vein Thrombosis and in a nutshell it is a blood clot formed in a deep leg vein. The big ones pumping through our calf and thigh muscles.

BUT the good news is studies show that the risk is small of getting a DVT when travelling (about 1 per 4600 flights lasting longer than 4 hours). However, sitting for long lengths of time in a plane, bus, train or even a car ride, being immobile and cramped, means our blood flow slows down and can collect in the legs when they are hanging down and form a clot.

(Clearly flying in a lie-flat Business Class seat is the safest way to travel. But I digress…)

Who’s most at risk of getting a DVT?

  • Those who have had an operation within 2 months
  • Pregnant women
  • Had a DVT before and not taking anti-coagulants
  • Those with a history of DVTs in the family
  • Obesity
  • A broken leg in plaster
  • Recent severe illness like a heart attack or pneumonia
Gumboots on plane

Love this passenger! Not sure the gumboots are conducive to DVT-less flying though.

How can you avoid a DVT?

  • Exercise your calves and feet regularly. You can do this in your seat just by bending and straightening your legs and rotating your ankles
  • Press the balls of your feet down hard on the floor to increase blood flow and repeat. Often
  • Walk up and down the aisle a couple of times during the flight. (When I flew on the double-story A380 I ran up and down the back stairs on my own personal exercise equipment!)
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol and sleeping tablets (do as I say, not as I do!)

Do flight socks help prevent a DVT?

Only if they are fitted right and have the right sort of compression. It needs to be graduated from the ankle to the knee. They also don’t replace the need to exercise. If you are in the high risk category, you should wear them as they are designed to stop blood pooling. Talk to the pharmacist when you buy them.

What are the symptoms of a DVT?

When you get off the flight you should walk about to get the blood flowing again which is all most of us need. Swollen and puffy feet and ankles are normal and not a sign of a DVT. But if you get a swollen calf or have trouble breathing then get ye straight to the doctor.

This research is found at www.patient.co.uk

About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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