How to Avoid DVT While Flying

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Long haul flights can be a pain in general, but if you're susceptible to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) this can make matters a lot worse. Every year, this condition affects around one in every 1,000 people in the UK and can be caused by going on flights that are over four hours in duration. Find out what you can do to prevent DVT before it begins by reading our blog.

What is DVT?

DVT is a condition where a blood clot develops in one of the deep veins of your body. Your legs are particularly susceptible to this condition when you're flying, especially if you have a history of the condition or you have cancer or heart disease, or have had a stroke.

Once you suffer from an episode of the condition, it usually takes at least three months to properly clear. This means three months of taking blood thinning medication and wearing compression stockings. And it doesn't stop there; DVT puts you at risk of developing pulmonary embolisms, which are fatal blood clots on the lungs.

How Can I Avoid DVT?

Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to prevent the condition while you're flying. This includes the following:

Wear Flight Socks

Use Compression Socks to Prevent DVT

Although they appear on most checklists provided by doctors and nurses prior to travelling, these are often ignored and the efficacy of compression stockings is disregarded. But in actual fact, flight socks are a highly effective way of boosting the blood circulation in your legs. As well as significantly reducing the risk of DVT, they can also prevent oedema and swelling in the area.

Compression socks should provide mild-to-moderate compression at the ankle. As such, products like the ever-popular Sigvaris Traveno Travel Flight Compression Socks are an excellent solution to keeping your legs healthy while you fly. These particular socks help reduce swelling in the legs while also offering 15mmHg to 18mmHg of graduated compression.

Keep Active on Your Flight

While you might be able to get away with remaining sedentary at home for hours on end, flying tends to increase the likelihood that you'll suffer from deep vein clots. Although researchers still aren't sure why exactly this is the case, getting up at least every hour on a plane for a wander around can make a big difference to your health.

An aid like the Airogym Portable DVT Exercise Cushion can increase blood flow through the leg's veins. This pocket-sized, inflatable cushion can be used while sitting on the plane. It works by pushing air from one chamber to another and therefore compressing and squeezing blood into the main veins to promote the flow of blood through the leg's deep veins.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

While flight socks should be fairly tight, the rest of your clothes when you travel should be loose-fitting and comfortable. This will not only help you remain comfortable while you fly, but it'll also facilitate blood circulation in your body. 

Stay Hydrated

Low cabin pressure can be dehydrating, so it's important that you remain hydrated while you travel. Although you might be tempted by the free alcoholic drinks you're offered during the flight, this is one of the worst things you can do if you're already susceptible to DVT. This is because it can dehydrate you even further.

Give the Window Seat a Miss

Choose an Aisle Seat on Your Next Flight

While you might miss out on the first glimpse of the country you're visiting, studies show that taking the window seat can increase the risk of developing DVT. After all, you probably don't want to be that one annoying person who keeps getting up and asking their neighbours to let them pass each hour! If you get a chance to choose, an aisle seat is probably a lot better for you.

What other measures do you take for preventing DVT on a long flight? Let us know in the comments, or find us on Facebook or Twitter!