Travel Advice -
Deep Vein Thrombosis
The article that follows presents
information about a medical condition that may result from extended air
travel. You are responsible for your health care and should ask your
doctor for professional information about any medical issues. Do not
rely on this article as a substitute for advice from a professional
health care practitioner.]
Deep Vein Thrombosis is a condition in which a
blood clot (a thrombus) forms in the inside of a “deep vein” (one of the
veins surrounded by powerful muscles that pumps blood back to the
- In DVT, the thrombus can grow in size and
impact circulation or break-off and cause a pulmonary embolism,
resulting in serious illness and, possibly, death.
- DVT occurs most commonly in the lower limbs
DVT has many causes with some thought to be related to genetics and
others related to environmental conditions such as:
- Pregnancy (extending to immediately following
- Recent surgery
- Recent injury
- And, possibly, the use of various prescription medicines.
Our focus here is in the form of DVT that can occur when you are
cooped-ed up and immobile during a long flight, such as a trip to
General recommendations for attempting to avoid DVT include:
- For flights longer than six hours, patients,
with or without risk for DVT should avoid constrictive clothing
around the lower extremities and waist
- Avoid dehydration
- Engage in frequent calf muscle stretching
- Patients at risk for VTE (venous
thromboembolism) should consider using a graduated compression
stocking or receive a dose of low molecular-weight heparin (LMWH),
as prescribed by a physician.
In addition consider the
- Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes and
- Take a walk around the airport while you are
waiting for your international flight (after all, you can defer
sitting until you board the plane).
- Once onboard the plane, do not sit in one
position for extended periods.
- Do in-seat exercises to keep your blood
- Wiggle your ankles and toes.
- Bring travel socks or slippers for
the flight or remove your shoes to have room to wiggle you
- Stretch your calf muscles by extending
your legs and pointing your toes at your head
- Tighten, and then relax your gluts
- Flex your thighs Wiggle your torso by
rotating your shoulders.
- Avoid dehydration.
- Drink plenty of fluids (not alcohol) and
consider packing a bottle of water in your carry-on.
- During the flight get up and take a short
walk around the plane every hour or two.
- Do not sit with your legs crossed
What are the symptoms of
DVT may produce no obvious symptoms; however, if
you experience a sharp pain in the thigh, cough-up blood, have chest
pain, or encounter difficulty breathing, contact medical assistance on
an emergency basis.
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