The Health Threats of Long-distance Travel
The summer holidays are here and many of you would be travelling long distances this period.
However, do you know that travelling on flights that extend beyond 4 hours can be associated with serious health threats?
Blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can form in the deep veins of your legs during travel because you are sitting still in a confined space for a prolonged period. The longer you are immobile, the greater your risk of developing a blood clot.
The problem comes when a part of the blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, causing a blockage. This leads to a condition called pulmonary embolism, and it may be fatal.
Good news is, many times, the blood clot will dissolve on its own. There are also actions that you can take to reduce your risk of developing blood clots during a long-haul flight.
- Recognise the Symptoms
DVT occurs usually in the legs or arms, and are accompanied by these common symptoms:
- Swelling of your leg or arm
- Pain or tenderness that you cannot explain
- Skin that is warm to the touch
- Redness of the skin
- Move Your Legs Frequently
If you have been sitting for a prolonged period, take a break to stretch your legs. Moving your legs and flexing your feet can help improve blood flow in your calves. The calf muscles assist in pumping blood from the legs back towards the heart. This prevents stagnation of blood in your veins.
Some airlines suggest pulling each knee up towards the chest and holding it there with your hands for 15 seconds.
Tip: Request for an aisle seat so you can get to enjoy a little more leg room. It will also be easier for you to get up and move around.
- Stay Hydrated
Not drinking enough fluids may cause your blood volume to decrease, and your blood to “thicken”. Therefore, allowing yourself to get dehydrated could increase your risk for DVT during long-haul flights.
To prevent this, be sure to drink plenty of fluids while traveling.
Tip: Limit how much alcohol you drink because it can lead to dehydration.
- Wear Compression Stockings
There are ‘flight socks’ designed to help improve blood flow in your legs. These special compression stockings provide graduated pressure that is strongest at the ankle and gradually decreases up to the knee or thigh.
Tip: Remember to wear loose-fitting outfits that do not constrict your waist or legs.
How PhysioActive Can Help
Our therapists can be an important part of a DVT patient’s recovery by:
- Providing massages that are useful for stimulating better vascular response in affected areas.
- Recommending specific exercises that can help to re-tone damaged muscles.
- Utilising specialised compression techniques to help the body recover from the stresses of a DVT.
Want to understand more? Contact us now to book an appointment.
This post has been written by Goh Yun Jie.