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How to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis While Flying

Sitting in a cramped space for hours at a time can put you at an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This occurs when a blood clot forms in one of your veins, normally in the lower legs. This can come with serious health ramifications; in fact, it has been estimated that around 1 in 10 people die from DVT complications.

The risk of this occurring during a normal flight is very low, but it becomes higher once travel time surpasses around 4 hours, so it's well worth taking these steps to make sure that you're doing everything possible to keep yourself safe.

See a GP If You're at Risk

The majority of people don't need to see a GP about the possibility of DVT, but there are some risk factors that should be taken into account, including:

  • A prior case of DVT
  • Recent surgery
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Heart disease
  • Prior case of a stroke
  • Family history of clotting problems

If any of these DVT risk factors apply to you, see your GP before you travel.

Take a Stroll

The main root cause of DVT is poor blood flow. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that you should take the time to move around during your travels. On a flight lasting longer than four hours, make sure you get up every hour or so to have a walk up and down the aisle. If you're taking connecting flights, make sure you walk around the terminal between flights instead of just sitting down to wait.

Stay Hydrated

Of course, poor blood flow isn't solely caused by a lack of movement. Dehydration can cause your blood to thicken, thereby increasing the likelihood of a clot occurring. Plenty of people avoid drinking water when they're flying, especially if they aren't in an aisle seat, because they're worried about having to get up all the time, but it's well worth keeping your hydration levels up if you're worried about DVT. Just make sure you avoid any drinks containing caffeine or alcohol; they will only dehydrate you.

Wear Compression Stockings

Compression stockings have been designed to both treat and prevent blood clots. They start tight at the feet, then gradually loosen as they work their way up your leg. You can get them from a pharmacy or medical centre on prescription, but they can also be ordered online.

DVT isn't something that you should worry too much about if you don't possess any risk factors, but it's always worth playing it safe by taking the tips in this guide into account.