There’s an old saying that goes (I paraphrase), “The joy of travel is in the journey, not the destination.” This is all well and good, but if you suffer from Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), the journey can be a “joyless” experience.
DVT is not to be taken lightly
DVT is serious. It happens when your blood congeals causing a clot in a vein deep within your body. This usually occurs in the lower leg or thigh; though, it can happen in other parts of your body, too. If a clot breaks loose and travels through your bloodstream, the result can be organ damage or worse.
What causes DVT?
Of course, you don’t need to be a traveller to suffer from DVT. A major culprit is inactivity, so people working in sedentary roles such as long-distance drivers and office workers can get it too.
However, when you travel long distances, you are, perhaps, at greater risk.
When flying long distances, there are several factors that can cause DVT:
- Inactivity — when you fly, you’re usually confined to a cramped space for a long time. If you don’t move around, the muscles responsible for distributing fluid in your legs become inactive, which can cause fluid to settle in your feet making them swell.
- Dehydration — not enough to drink in combination with the naturally dry air in a plane can cause your blood to thicken.
- Pressure — planes are pressurised to increase comfort. The problem, though, is that the pressure can prevent your blood from flowing as quickly as it should.
- Food — food served on planes, like crackers, nuts and chips, is usually sodium-rich. A sudden intake of sodium can cause you to retain water and your feet to swell.
What can you do about it?
Thankfully, there are several precautions you can take:
- Move around as often as possible
- Drink plenty of fluid (no, not alcohol and coffee; they will make things worse)
- Take an aspirin
- Give up smoking
- Watch your blood pressure
- Watch your cholesterol
There is another option: compression flight socks. Flight socks (sometimes called travel socks) look just like a normal pair of socks except they are made from specially selected fabrics that generate pressure on the legs, ankles and feet. You also purchase them by compression level, which is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
Compression socks work on the principle of fluid hydrodynamics. By reducing the diameter of swollen veins in your legs, they speed up blood flow and move blood gently up your legs.
There are cheap travel socks available with uniform compression from the ankles up. However, with the better compression socks, the pressure is graduated. In other words, they are tightest at the ankles and become less so towards the knees. It is important that there be more pressure at your ankles because that’s where the most swelling occurs. So, not only are graduated compression socks more comfortable, but they are also much more effective for pushing blood up your legs.
So, as you see, there are several ways to ensure you enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
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This content is provided by TXG for information purposes only.
We advise anyone interested in this subject to seek qualified professional advice.