Deep Venous (Vein) Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the large veins, usually in the arm or leg, leading to either partially or completely blocked circulation. A DVT blood clot has the potential to move into the lungs, creating a life-threatening condition know as a Pulmonary Embolism.

The link between DVT and long haul air travel was first introduced in medical journals in the 1950s which highlighted the potential risk long periods of immobility during long haul flights presented.

First and foremost, DVT is not a problem restricted to air travellers, and anyone travelling for prolonged distances by car, bus or train are at equal risk.  There is, in fact, no real evidence to suggest that air travel is responsible for an increased likelihood for DVT over any other situation where the condition may be arising.

Steps to reduce the DVT:

Always drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Do not drink alcohol before or during the flight, as this can compound dehydration.

Try and keep your thighs clear of the edge of your seat. Use foot rests as far as possible.
Take a brisk walk for half an hour before the flight.

Regularly go for a short walk to the restroom to keep your legs moving during the flight.

Try a few simple exercises to keep your legs moving, by rotating your ankles, pointing your heel and toe alternately and lifting your knees whilst seated every half hour for a short period.

Try and tense your leg muscles as regularly as possible throughout the flight.

Wear elastic flight socks (elastic compression stockings) especially designed to reduce the risk of DVT. These are readily available at most pharmacies.

The day before the flight, take a low dose of aspirin (100mg - 150mg), during the flight, and for three days following the flight.

Deep vein thrombosis symptoms include swelling of the legs, pain in the legs, and redness in the leg. The affected leg can also feel warmer to the touch. 

If you think you have DVT then please seek professional medical advice ASAP.

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