When you’re traveling long-distance, all the sitting or standing still can increase your chances of developing a blood clot that, if located in a deep vein, can dislodge and travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism), potentially becoming life-threating.
Managing your vein health while flying and riding can prevent this and other complications. Some tips from USA Vein Clinics make sure you know how to care for your veins in either travel situation.
Why manage your vein health while traveling
The longer you are immobile, the more your blood thickens and clumps together due to poor circulation. Should the blood coagulate enough, a clot can form within the superficial or deep veins (deep vein thrombosis or DVT).
Some people experience no symptoms at all, while others feel leg pain, swelling, discoloration, cramping, or warmth in the affected area.
Most often, a clot will dissolve on its own; however, it can become life-threatening if a deep vein blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs. There, it can cause a blockage known as a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can lead to trouble breathing and possible death.
How to manage vein health during flights
If you are predisposed to blood clots or recently had vein treatment, your first step should be making your doctor aware of your travel plans, including how long the flight will be. They can recommend when it is safe to fly and provide specific instructions based on your health.
In general, vein specialists recommend you also do the following:
- Wear compression stockings: they use graduated compression to draw blood up and out of the leg, toward the heart.
- Move around: flex your feet and roll ankles to help engage the muscles that pump blood throughout your legs.
- Drink water: staying hydrated keeps vein walls from narrowing and regulates blood pressure.
- Elevate: if possible, such as when you have a bulkhead seat, elevate your legs to take pressure off of your veins and to allow blood to flow more easily.
- Stretch: Get up and stand or stretch every hour to promote healthy blood flow and reduce swelling.
- Avoid alcohol: skip the sugary drinks and alcohol; they can cause blood vessels to constrict.
- Walk: if you’re sitting at the gate with some time on your hands, get up and walk around. Sitting for too long stalls circulation.
How to manage vein health during a road trip
Just as you would before a flight, you should consult with your vein specialist prior to hopping in an automobile that will leave you immobile for hours. Tell them how long you'll be riding and seek specific instructions for your care.
In general, vein specialists recommend the following:
- Do some sightseeing: break up the long drive with a little exercise. Plan to stop every few hours to go on a short hike, play Frisbee at a rest stop, or even take the stairs at a shopping center to encourage circulation, as well as reduce blood clot risks.
- Change your position: change your posture, your sitting position, and even your seat altogether periodically throughout the drive.
- Stretch: roll your ankles, flex your feet, wiggle your toes, and extend your legs to promote healthy circulation.
- Recline and elevate: recline your passenger seat and elevate your legs on and off for 15 minutes every hour.
- Watch your diet: avoid indulging in fast foods high in sodium, fat, and cholesterol as they can cause blood to coagulate.
- Keep cool: hot weather can cause leg pain and other vein symptoms to worsen. Keep cool and remember to drink water. Wear light clothing, blast the A/C, or roll down the windows.
Treating venous insufficiency and poor circulation
These tips can help temporarily reduce your risk of blood clots and relieve some of your symptoms, but the underlying cause will still exist.
Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) is an effective, minimally invasive solution to eliminate painful symptoms and reduce your risk of developing DVT. Learn more by exploring our website, calling us at (888) 768-3467, or scheduling an appointment online.