March is DVT Awareness Month, and with spring and summer travel just around the corner, we thought it was the perfect time to remind you of this danger involved in traveling. So, what is DVT?
DVT stands for Deep Vein Thrombosis, or for those of us that aren’t doctors – blood clots in the deep veins, usually the calf or thigh muscle. DVT can damage the valves in your blood vessels, causing pain and swelling. But, more dangerously, blood clots can break free and travel through the bloodstream and damage major organs – most specifically the heart and lungs. This is a condition known as pulmonary embolism. Blood clots in the deep veins in the thigh muscles are the most frequent culprits of pulmonary embolism.
How does this relate to travel? Long trips in cars, trains, buses and most especially planes can increase your risk of developing DVT. Blood flows more slowly when sitting immobile for long periods of time in cramped spaces, and gravity plays its part in making it more difficult for blood to adequately move around the body. Slow moving blood pooling in the legs is a breeding ground for clots.
Although the risk of developing DVT while traveling is small, the risk is real and travelers should take precautions – especially if they are at higher risk.
What can you do to prevent DVT while traveling?
- First and foremost. Wear compression hosiery like travel socks from Therafirm. Therafirm makes a Men’s Dress Sock, a Women’s Trouser Sock and a Unisex Everyday Sock. All of Therafirm’s compression hosiery is graduated. Compression hosiery must be graduated to be effective in preventing DVT. Gradient compression pressure helps to promote blood flow and prevents blood from pooling in the legs.
- Keep moving. If you are taking a car trip, make frequent stops. For plane, bus or train trips, get up and move around every so often as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
- Exercise your legs. Bend and straighten your legs several times every half hour to hour. This helps to avoid blood pooling.
- Drink plenty of water. Water will help keep your blood thinner and less likely to develop clots.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol contributes to dehydration, which thickens the blood.
No one wants their travel to include a stop at an emergency room or hospital, so take the necessary precautions to prevent DVT. Pack your Therafirm travel socks and enjoy your DVT-free vacations!
** NOTE: Always consult your doctor before using any of the practices for avoiding DVT.