Varicose Veins and Air Travel: What You Need to Know

Hundreds of millions of people travel on long flights every year, but many do not realize that long-distance travel by air can lead to blood clots, which are referred to as Deep Vein Thrombosis. If you plan on traveling for longer than just four hours, you can increase your risk of developing blood clots, especially within the deep veins of the legs, from having to sit for a long period of time in a confined space. The risk increases the longer you travel.

If you plan on traveling by air for a long period of time, continue reading to learn more about the risk of blood clots, especially if you have varicose veins.

Blood Clots in Varicose Veins

Blood clots can form in varicose veins in some instances, so if you have varicose veins, you are at risk of these types of blood clots. This condition is called Superficial Vein Thrombosis. The clots are smaller than those associated with Deep Vein Thrombosis, and this condition is also a lot less serious, but it is nevertheless something that you should be aware of, especially if you are going to be traveling for a long time by plane and increasing your risk of blood clots.

Have Your Varicose Veins Treated Prior to Getting on a Flight

If you suffer with varicose veins and you are concerned about the increased risk of developing blood clots while traveling by air, it is a good idea to visit a vascular doctor with experience in treating and removing varicose veins. These types of doctors can thoroughly examine you to determine if you have any blood clots currently, and they can help you by giving you the most appropriate and least invasive treatment available for your particular condition.

Steps to Take While on a Flight

Once your varicose veins are gone, you can rest assured that your risk will be decreased, but there are still other steps you can take to prevent other types of clots while on a long flight.

  • Wear travel compression stockings, as well as comfortable clothing that is loose so it does not restrict your circulation or movement
  • Drink plenty of water so that you can remain hydrated, and limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills, which can result in immobility
  • Straighten and bend the legs and move your toes and feet every half hour for about three or four minutes. You should also take a couple of minutes to walk down and up the aisle of the plane, provided that you are allowed to do so and it is safe.
  • Massage your calves regularly, and move your toes frequently
  • Only sleep for short periods of time, preferably no longer than a half hour at a time

Even though your risk of getting a blood clot while on a long distance flight increases if you have varicose veins, rest assured that there are treatments available that can remove those veins so you can dramatically decrease your risk.

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