Dec 30, 2017
Posted by: Daniel Walker

How to avoid deep vein thrombosis while flying

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the legs, either in the calf or thigh. DVT can cause various complications ranging from pain to inflammation, swelling and leg ulcers. If untreated blood clots can cause a pulmonary embolism. This occurs when the blood clot travels through the circulatory system and blocks the main artery which supplies blood to the lungs, which can be fatal.

Travellers on long-haul flights of more than 12 hours are much more susceptible to DVT. The longer the flight, the greater the risk. The reason long-haul flights can cause DVT is because of the long periods of time sitting in the exact same position. Being immobile for long periods of time allows the blood in the legs to pool inside the veins which can ultimately lead to the blood clot. When we are sitting down our muscles aren’t active, which means the legs don’t push the blood back up towards our hearts.

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How to avoid deep vein thrombosis while flying

DVT can be prevented, the easiest way to do so is to move around the plane’s cabin and stretch those leg muscles to get that blood flowing. Moving around the plane is really important, you should get up and move around quite regularly. While walking down the aisles and going to the toilet, it is important to take your time to stretch, particularly your legs. 

It is also possible to stretch out your legs while you are sitting down. While sitting down you can do multiple leg stretches. Here are some stretches to do:

  • Rolling your ankles clockwise and anti-clockwise
  • Leave your ankles on the ground and then point your toes up 
  • Leave your toes on the ground, lifting your heels up
  • Leg extensions
  • Placing your foot on your knee to create a figure four shape then bend down so your chest touches your lap
  • Place something like a book between your legs and squeeze
  • Lift your knees up individually towards your chest using your hands as support

Flight socks are made to significantly decrease the chances of DVT and leg swelling from occurring. Flight socks or compression stockings apply gentle pressure to the legs to assist with blood flow. They come in different sizes and there are different levels of compression. Buy them from the airport, pharmacies, doctors and health stores. You should also wear loose, comfortable clothing while flying. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated and avoid alcohol and sleeping pills because they cause dehydration and immobility.

Thanks for reading our tips on how to avoid deep vein thrombosis while flying. I hope you have learnt the dangers of DVT and how to avoid it. Do you think we have missed anything? Comment below.


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Daniel Walker - Author

Daniel Walker is an Australian landscape photographer, blogger, outdoor enthusiast and travel addict originally from western Sydney, now residing in Melbourne, Victoria.

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