Are you planning to travel over the holidays? If you’ll be spending long periods of time sitting still (either in your car or on an airplane) you may want to take heed of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). What is DVT? It can be painful and dangerous if you don’t know what it is and how to identify it while you’re traveling.
DVT can affect anyone but is most prevalent in adults over 60 years of age. DVT mainly affects the larger veins in the lower legs and thighs. A blood clot can develop and block blood flow, causing pain and swelling. A blood clot that breaks free and moves through the bloodstream is called an embolism. An embolism can lodge in the brain, heart, or lungs and cause severe damage.
The risk factors for DVT and blood clots include:
- long periods of bed rest;
- cigarette smoking;
- fractures in the pelvis or legs;
- giving birth within the last 6 months;
- heart failure;
- medications such as estrogen and birth control pills;
- obesity; and
- recent surgery.
There are ways to avoid DVT if you happen to have any of these risk factors. First and foremost, moving your legs often during long plane trips, car trips, and other situations in which you are sitting or lying down for long periods of time can help prevent DVT. You can do ankle circles, knee bends, and thigh lifts right in your seat. It’s also important to get up and move during plane travel. If you are travelling by car, stop periodically and walk for a few minutes. By moving around, you decrease your risk of DVT significantly.
Clinical evidence suggests that wearing compression socks or tights while travelling reduces the incidence of DVT on long flights, especially if you have any of the risk factors identified above. These products help improve circulation, which can be particularly important to decrease the risk of DVT.
Have questions about DVT? Contact Dr. Wichman today to get advice