Deep Vein Thrombosis or dvt and Flying

Thanks to extensive media coverage the public has become aware of the condition called dvt or deep vein thrombosis.

The link between air travel and deep vein thrombosis was first reported in medical journals published as far back as 50 years ago but, despite the intervening years, there still remains a lot of ignorance around this condition.

Although deep vein thrombosis has been inextricably linked with air travel it is a condition that may present itself whenever the human body is immobile for extended periods. Therefore passengers on long car, bus or train journeys are at just as much risk as the air traveller

Deep vein thrombosis is not a unique problem affecting air travellers – it also affects those travelling by other modes of transport

There is no evidence that air travel increases the risk of dvt – it is periods of immobility that cause the problem and not flying.

Deep Vein Thrombosis – The Symptoms

The symptoms of dvt are very similar to a number of medical conditions which can make it very difficult to diagnose. An ultrasound scan is the safest and most conclusive way of making an accurate diagnosis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis or dvt is not indicated by swollen ankles. Any acute pain in the muscles of the leg, accompanied by redness should be reported to the doctor especially if the occurrence coincides with a period of immobility.

Who is most at risk from Deep Vein Thrombosis?

The increase in association between dvt and flying has simply occurred because of the increase in the number of flights that people are taking. Although it is often referred to as the ‘economy class’ disease all passengers are at equal risk – remembering of course that there is no more risk for air travellers than there is for passengers in cars, buses and trains.

Research suggests that some people are more susceptible to dvt than others because of the following factors:

• Over the age of 40

• Had a previous problem with thrombosis

• Suffering from any kind of blood disorder

• Suffering from any kind of malignant disease

• Recovering from recent surgery

• Pregnant or post-natal

• Taking any form of hormone therapy

• Dehydration

• Smoker

• Obese

Ways to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis

To reduce your risk of suffering from deep vein thrombosis when flying or using any other form of transport follow these guidelines:

• Avoid becoming dehydrated – drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol

• Use a foot rest to relieve the pressure of the seat on the backs of your legs

• Use the time in the departure lounge wisely – do not sit – walk around.

• Provided the seat belt sign is not illuminated – walk around the cabin every hour

• Practice tensing and relaxing the muscles of your leg whilst sitting down to assist the circulatory system.

• Keep your legs mobile whilst sitting – rotate your ankles and stretch your legs as far as you can. Also, rock your feet from heel to toe.

• Take 100mg of aspirin daily before, during and after the flight

• Buy and wear a pair of the specially designed support socks

Flying does not increase your risk of suffering from deep vein thrombosis – extended periods of immobility do. By taking sensible precautions, whenever you are travelling, by whatever mode of transport, you can help yourself avoid this nasty condition.

There is no more need to be afraid of flying for fear of contracting deep vein thrombosis than there is to undertaking a long car journey – both present an equal risk.

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The articles and resources provided at the Fear of Flying Help website are provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended and does not in any way replace professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any medical conditions or questions related to your health and wellbeing. If you rely on any information provided by this website it must be solely at your own risk.