Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT as it is commonly known, is a potential risk for travellers caused by immobility for long periods of time caused mainly by long-haul flights. However, DVT has been reported amongst those who have travelled via coach, car or train and can even be caused by lack of movement for those who work in offices, or have been recovering since an operation. Each year, it is estimated that one in every 1000 people will suffer with DVT, and although it can effect any age group, it is most common in older generations.
What is Travel Related DVT?
The reason long periods of immobility can cause DVT is because the leg muscles are not used for this time span, and since these muscles are responsible for assisting blood flow back to your heart, inactivity can lead to poor circulation and thus increase the risk of clots. DVT is a clotting of the blood in any of the deep veins, usually within the calf. If a clot develops, it is normally characterised with intense pain within the area that has been effected. If this happens, medical assistance should be sought immediately.
In some cases deep vein thrombosis can be fatal, if the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs where it can then affect the lung's ability to take in oxygen.
What are the symptoms?
It’s worth remembering that DVT doesn’t always occur immediately after a trip. It can show itself days or even weeks later. In the majority of cases, the clot will disperse itself without a problem and there may even be no symptoms. But in cases where the clot is larger, the sufferer will experience pain, redness and swelling within the area which will become worse when pressure is applied.
Complications can occur if larger clots break away, and travel to the lungs, blocking the flow of blood. The sufferer will then probably experience breathlessness and chest pain. This is a potentially fatal condition and urgent medical attention is required.
Who is at risk?
Inactivity for an extended period of time is one of the main factors for causing deep vein thrombosis. However, this coupled with other factors can increase the risk significantly. These include:
- If you have travelled for more than 3 hours in the four weeks following surgery.
- If you have a family history of DVT.
- If you are currently suffering with cancer or undergoing cancer treatment.
- If you are taking any hormonal treatments, including the contraceptive pill.
- If you suffer with inflammatory bowel disease.
- If you have any existing varicose veins.
- If you currently have, or have had, any cardiac problems.
- If you have recently suffered a stroke.
- If you have dehydration.
- If you are aged over 60.
- How Can I Prevent DVT?
If you have one or more of the above factors listed, it is worth visiting your GP to discuss specific methods of reducing your risk of DVT. Your GP may be able to prescribe you some medication, or advise you otherwise.
All travellers, even those not considered a high risk, should make effort to try to exercise during long journeys. As this may be difficult in some circumstances, the exercise doesn't need to be vigorous. Exercise the calf muscles by rotating your ankles, clockwise and anti clockwise, as well as stretching and going for a stroll wherever you can, even if it‘s just to the toilet and back.
Restrictions can encourage clots, so make sure you wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing for long journeys. Some hosiery can be good for encouraging circulation, so it may be worth investing in some good quality, well-fitted hosiery especially for your trip.
Since a plane is a dry environment, consuming too much tea, coffee, alcohol or other caffeinated beverages can increase your levels of dehydration, thus increased in your risk of clots. Try to drink plenty of water to flush your system of toxins, and keep you hydrated and alert.
In-Flight Stockings and DVT Socks
In flight stockings and specially made socks are proven to help reduce the risk of travel related DVT. And since deep vein thrombosis is so widely heard of, is it really any wonder more and more travellers are seeking easy, comfortable products like these to keep them safe? Research has shown that correctly fitting anti-thrombosis stockings or DVT socks increase blood flow, thus lowering the risk of DVT in those at risk. So check out our range of in flight stockings and socks in your fight against DVT.