We have all heard the risks of blood clots on a plane. But you can get blood clots traveling by bus, car, and train. The holiday travel season has begun. Here is what you know to avoid the risk of DVT.
DVT forms in the deep veins of the legs, the ones not visible directly under the skin, when travelers are confined in a small space, remaining relatively still.
Often, these clots dissolve on their own—the problem arises if a part of the clot separates and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (a blockage), which can be fatal.
It is not the traveling that puts you at risk. It is long periods of relative inactivity.
There are other general risk factors for getting blood clots. They are things like recent surgery, personal or family history of DVT, pregnancy, age, obesity. They also include active cancer, recent cancer treatment, estrogen treatment, and spider or varicose veins.
If you qualify for any of the general risk factors and are planning to travel you should pay special attention to your leg health this holiday season.
How can you protect yourself from DVT this holiday travel season?
- Move your legs as much as possible during long trips.
- Use stops for gas, snack, or bathroom breaks to stretch out your legs.
- Do a few squats to get the blood flowing.
- Flex your foot back and forth (up and down).
- On a plane go to the bathroom even if it is just to stretch your legs.
Knowing the symptoms…
DVT my result in unexplainable pain or tenderness. Skin that is red and warm to the touch. Sometimes their is swelling on the leg or arm. Many times their are no symptoms at all. So if you are at risk, make sure you are exercising and stretching.
Pulmonary embolism may show itself through difficulty breathing, faster or irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, or anxiety. More immediate symptoms include fainting, chest pain that is worse with coughing or deep breathing. Though, like DVT, PE often does not show any symptoms.