Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a dangerous health condition occurring in the pelvis or leg area. Recent studies have shown that its onset has been linked to long-haul flights due to dehydration, low cabin pressure, and cramped conditions inside an airplane. During DVT, the blood clots inside the blood vessel, preventing healthy circulation to the affected area. While this vascular condition is relatively uncommon, since only one case is diagnosed in every 4,565 flights, it can have disastrous complications if left untreated. Read on below to properly inform yourself about Deep Vein Thrombosis and how you can stay safe during your next airplane ride.
Individuals Most At Risk
Anyone can contract Deep Vein Thrombosis, but certain individuals are more at risk than others. The most susceptible groups are smokers, pregnant women, senior citizens, and women taking estrogen pills. Travellers who are dehydrated, suffer from varicose veins, or have mobility issues are also increasingly vulnerable. Therefore, members of these factions should exercise even greater caution during long-haul flights.
Symptoms of DVT
While Deep Vein Thrombosis is sometimes asymptomatic, there are often visible warning signs. The most common symptom is painful swelling in the leg, often within the calf area. This swelling happens when a clot has blocked the blood flow, causing pain and inflammation to the affected bodily region. Other symptoms that may be observed are aching, warm skin, and red skin, frequently below and behind the knee.
Ways To Stay Safe
The best way to prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis is to move around as much as possible. Keeping mobile will help the blood flow to continue circulating normally, thus preventing clots from forming. While seated, practice stretching, flexing, and bouncing your legs. Once the seatbelt sign has been turned off, try walking up and down the aisle every hour. These suggestions may seem small, but they go a long way in ensuring in-flight prevention against DVT.
Another important step is to stay hydrated. Pack a water bottle in your carry-on, and avoid the in-flight consumption of diuretics like alcohol, coffee, and tea. Dehydration can cause blood to thicken and move sluggishly, so it's necessary to drink plenty of fluids. As well, some research shows that compression socks are beneficial against DVT. This specialized footwear is designed to speed up blood flow, which helps to fight off future clots.
Finally, if you believe you've developed Deep Vein Thrombosis after a long-haul flight, contact your doctor immediately. Left untreated, this condition can pose serious health complications, such as clot extension, pulmonary embolus, and even death. But if DVT is identified quickly and given proper medical care, the blood clot can usually be dissolved and the vascular health will return to normal.