Exactly what is DVT and should I be worried about it when I travel?
DVT, Deep Vein Thrombosis, is a condition in which a blood clot or ‘thrombus’ forms in the deep veins of the legs.
The return of blood from these deep veins to the heart is made more difficult by the force of gravity and the relatively long distance that blood needs to travel back to the heart, compared with return from other parts of the body.
DVT can result in no symptoms, or it can cause swelling and pain in the affected leg, for example, pain in the calf when the foot is flexed upwards.
Although DVT is a serious condition, it is the relatively rare complications of DVT that can be life-threatening.
If you spend a lot of time on airplanes, and especially if they're lengthy flights, that recurring pain in your legs may be a warning that you're at risk of developing DVT and becoming a medical statistic.
The long stretches of time and inactivity you spend sitting on a plane can cause your feet, ankles and legs to swell. As a flyer, what should you do?
Move about the cabin when it is safe to do so, and include simple exercises like walking back and forth, doing foot and knee lifts, and performing ankle flexes and rotations. Light-fitting clothing is a must for long flights. Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, but stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Try not to fall asleep for more than a half-hour. If your flight has a layover, don't head for the nearest place to sit down again; instead, engage in a brisk power walk through the terminal.
You can also wear compression stockings that are designed to squeeze your ankles and calves and force the blood in your lower leg veins back toward the heart; this hosiery can also be worn in-flight as a preventative measure.
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