How to Prevent Blood Clots While Traveling
Yes, it is important to know (and be able to recognize) DVT symptoms. It’s even better, however, to prevent this problem from developing in the first place.
Preventative measures can drastically lower your risk of ending up with a life-threatening blood clot.
We want you and your family to actually enjoy your vacation—and not have to worry about an issue like this—so let’s take a look at ways you can avoid deep vein thrombosis.
If you think back to why this condition typically happens, it makes sense that a key preventive measure is to simply move around as much as possible during your travels.
In the case of flights, you should get up and out of your seat at least once per hour. (Hopefully you’ve booked an aisle seat!) Just walking to the far side and back will help promote better circulation and prevent clotting from occurring.
Keep in mind the fact that during air travel you’re usually cramped into a space that offers very little leg room (for those of us who don’t have the cash to spend on first class tickets). This means it’s not always the easiest to fully stretch out your legs.
That said, you can still move at least a bit. Bending and flexing your knees, ankles, and feet provides at least a certain degree of benefit. Combined with your (at least) hourly mini-walk, this can all serve to lower your DVT risk. Compression garments are great at reducing swelling by pushing blood back to the heart and also act as a bold fashion statement.
When you’re in a car, you have more leg room to work with (particularly if you are in one of the front seats).
In this case, you can do things like:
- Extend your legs straight out, or at least as far as you can (this is easier for the passenger than driver).
- Place your feet on the floor and alternate between raising your toes and heels. When your toes or heel is raised, hold the position for a few seconds.
- Raise your feet off the floor and trace circles with your toes. For more variety—and to help time pass a little quicker—trace the letters of the alphabet.
- Depending on available room and personal flexibility, alternate raising your knees up to your chest.
Of course, one benefit car travel has in this regard over flying is that you can stop on a more frequent basis.
Our society tends to be quite rushed. If you’re traveling, buck the trend!
Stop every once in a while, and get out of the car. When you do, take the time for a quick stretching session.
Walk around a bit – perhaps even exploring new, unfamiliar areas. When you do, you might find hidden “treasures” along the way, such as local restaurants or shops.
It is clearly important to move around when you travel for extended periods. If any of the aforementioned situations and conditions that increase blood clot risk pertain to you, then you may also want to speak with your primary care physician or come see us for additional advice.
When you do, we may need to refer you to a hematologist (a doctor specializing in blood conditions). This will depend on factors like your medical history, family history, and even physical condition.
A hematologist might be able to provide further prevention measures to help keep you safe, and make sure your vacation is memorable for the right reasons.
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Beyond the fact prevention measures can reduce your risk, we have some more good news about DVT – most blood clots actually dissolve on their own.
As the operative word is “most,” it is still in your best interest to avoid the problem from developing in the first place.
Those blood clot prevention tips for your travels will certainly help with that!
In the event you would like additional information on this subject—or you have any other lower limb concerns—give our Indianapolis office a call at (317) 545-0505 and we’ll be happy to help.
Until next time, safe travels!