‘Tis the season for preparing for spring and summer travel, and we’re gearing up for fun vacations, unforgettable road trips and exploring new destinations. Amidst the summer trip-planning excitement, March is also Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month. DVT is a scary condition, but the good news is it’s highly preventable with a bit of awareness and preparation.
What is DVT?
Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein, often during long-distance travel. It causes pain and swelling in the legs and arms, redness or discoloration and warmth of the skin. When you are immobile in a confined space for a long period of time (hello, overseas flight), your risk of developing a clot increases. In some cases, part of the blood clot can break off and travels to the lungs causing a blockage, called a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
For many of us who travel all the time, the implications and risk factors of DVT are surprising. You’re young and free– you don’t have to worry about blood clots! But, that’s not the case. According to the CDC, over 300 million people embark on flights over four hours – if you’re one of those travelers, it’s good to be aware of the many ways to prevent DVT.
How to Prevent DVT
Avoiding DVT during travel is all about stimulating blood flow throughout your body. Anytime you sit for long periods, blood flow to your legs, feet and arms decreases.
To get your blood moving during lengthy travel, try these few easy tips:
- Flex your calves and wiggle your toes every hour during a long flight or car drive
- Get up and walk up and down the aisle of the airplane, as long as it’s safe to do so
- On long car drives, use restroom and gas stops to walk quick laps, do jumping jacks or jog in place
- Wear graduated compression socks, which are tighter at the ankle and looser around the calf and help promote blood flow back to the heart
- Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine/alcohol
Make Prevention Fun
As you plan your upcoming travel this season, prepare to treat your veins right! Preventing DVT doesn’t have to be a drag. Make it into a game with your kids (who can do the most jumping jacks while the gas tank fills?) or a way to pass the time on a flight (five minutes doing calf and toe flexes each hour). You can even make protecting your health a fashion statement with fun and colorful compression socks. We think it will do more than boost your blood flow – it’ll make your travel all the merrier, too!