More than 100,000 flights take place on a daily basis. This means that 6 million people world wide get packed into the narrow fuselage of the commercial airplanes and spend 1 to 15 hours to get to their destinations. The convenience and safety of flying makes it the main choice for travelers. After all, there is no faster way to get to where you want to be than to fly there. However, there are certain risks associated with the long flights, especially the onset of deep vein thrombosis.
The Economy Class Syndrome
As the name suggests, deep vein thrombosis occurs in the deep veins of the body. It is characterized by a blood clot appearing in the affected area. Usually, pain in the leg is the first indication of deep vein thrombosis occurring. However, well over half the cases of deep vein thrombosis have occurred without any noticeable systems. This means that a person could start experiencing it without any prior notice.
The common symptoms for deep vein thrombosis occurring on a flight include pain and swelling in the affected limb. Pain is the most frequent symptom.
The other common symptoms for deep vein thrombosis include:
- Swelling and pain in the affected area
- Affected part of the body heating up
- Changes in Appearance of the skin around affected limb
- Factors That Increase the Risk
Usually, deep vein thrombosis occurs because a person’s body has been immobile for an extended period of time. This is why it can happen in long flights. The longer the distance, the more difficult it becomes to prevent deep vein thrombosis. There are several other risk factors which also come into play:
Any injury or surgery in the recent past which may have affected the size of the veins. The problem usually occurs when the already damaged veins are not able to maintain a healthy blood flow, which results in clot formation. Hence, people with injuries or who have recently had surgeries should avoid air travel.
People with major illnesses and medical problems, like heart disease, cancer, etc, should not travel by air without approval from their doctor/physician.
Women who have given birth in the recent past have to check with a doctor first before travelling by air, regardless of their state. Also, women on hormone replacement therapy or those who are using birth control pills have to be cautious about travelling by air alone.
People who smoke have to understand the fact that smoking can lead to the formation of blood clots and issues with blood circulation. Hence, the chance of clotting is higher.
Passengers who are tall and overweight are at more risk of deep vein thrombosis when travelling by air. Also, patients older than 60 years are have a higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis too.
How to Prevent Blood Clot
There are some precautionary measures you can take to ensure that the risk of deep vein thrombosis is minimized. The passenger should try to remain awake throughout the entire flight. This way, he/she will be conscious enough to spot any discomfort or symptoms of deep vein thrombosis right away.
Keep your carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment. A common mistake travelers make is keeping their bags beneath their feet. This reduces the legroom you get. Stretch your legs out from time to time to keep the blood flowing.
Get up and take a walk up and down the aisle. Again, this is something you should keep doing throughout the duration of the flight to improve the blood supply to the affected areas.
Drink a lot of water on the plane. Make sure you don’t drink less than what has been recommended for the average adult. It does depend on the length of the flight as well. Also, be careful what you eat or drink before a flight. Check this article regarding a proper diet and supplementing.
Wear clothes that are loose fitting and you feel comfortable in them. Avoid clothes that stick to your body as they increase the pressure on your veins.
Buy special flight socks for your air travelling needs. The socks have been designed to keep your feet nice and cozy during the flight. The socks are known as compression stockings and are widely available. They will make your feet stay comfortable and they reduce the chances of deep vein thrombosis to a minimum.
These are some of the steps you can follow to reduce the risk for deep vein thrombosis during a flight.
In-flight Exercises You Can Do
There are a couple of easy exercises you can do on the plane if you feel deep vein thrombosis settling in. They include:
Place your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift them up and take your heels as high as possible.
Apply pressure on your thigh muscle, bend your knee and then try to lift your leg. Do this on both legs at least 10 times each.
Knee to Chest
Bend your knee and try to bring it up to your chest. You will have to bend forward to complete the exercise. Once again, repeat for each leg.
Stretch your arms out. Hold your right arm tightly with your left arm and pull it to the left.
Let your shoulders be nice and relaxed. Droop your head to the right and then roll it to the left side. Do this a number of times to release the tension built in the neck.
Deep vein thrombosis is very much a genuine concern for air travelers. Use the tips and tricks provided here to prevent it from happening.