Blood Clots and Travel: What You Need to Know

December 31, 2019

Traveling for long periods can wreak havoc on the body’s circulatory system. Whether you’re traveling by plane, car or bus, lengthy trips and prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to the formation of blood clots, particularly for those at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In some cases, this condition can cause painful physical symptoms that affect your comfort and overall health. At the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we are dedicated to helping patients restore and protect their vascular health. We encourage all those who travel for long periods to understand the risk factors of venous disease, how to prevent issues from developing, and how to secure your long-term vein health.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the body, which are not visible through the skin. This condition most commonly develops in the legs due to extended periods of inactivity, such as long-distance trips. When the body is seated, the blood circulates more slowly, and gravity works against the veins as they attempt to send blood back up the legs. This process can gradually cause the blood to collect and pool in the vein, triggering the body’s clotting response.

In some cases, blood clots can dissolve on their own. However, in more severe cases, deep vein thrombosis can lead to painful symptoms and further medical complications if left untreated. If part of the blood clot detaches and travels to the lungs, it can cause a blockage, also known as a pulmonary embolism, which may be fatal. Understanding the risk factors, symptoms and preventative techniques can help prepare you for long-distance trips and ensure you remain in good vascular health during and after your journey.

Symptoms of DVT

Some patients who develop DVT experience no physical symptoms. However, the most common issues associated with blood clots include:

  • Swelling in the foot, ankle or leg
  • Cramping, throbbing or unexplained pain in the legs
  • Enlarged veins
  • The skin over the affected vein feels warmer than surrounding skin
  • The skin over the affected area turns pale, reddish or bluish

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately. Dr. James Jimenez at the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin can examine your condition and overall health to ensure the problem is identified and managed effectively. He will work with you to select the most suitable vein treatment and suggest preventative techniques to help protect your long-term vascular health.

Risk Factors for Developing DVT

Various factors can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. Though this condition can occur at any stage of your life, the risk increases considerably after the age of 40. Beyond age, the most common risk factors include:

  • Reduced mobility or inactivity (e.g., bed rest, flights or drives)
  • Obesity
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Personal history or family history of blood clots
  • Vein damage due to injury or trauma
  • Serious medical issues, such as heart disease or cancer

How To Prevent Blood Clots While Traveling

Exercise and Movement

In confined situations, it can be difficult to move around while traveling on a plane or in a car. However, there are some simple exercises and movements that can help to boost circulation in the legs and thereby prevent the blood from collecting and clotting. These movements include:

  • Standing up and stretching your legs whenever possible – On a flight, this means walking up and down the aisle every hour. In a car, this requires taking regular rest stops to walk around and stretch your legs.
  • Recline your seat whenever possible
  • When seated, lower the balls of your feet to the floor to help increase blood flow in the legs
  • Keep your leg area clear of bags and other items to ensure you can stretch out regularly
  • Bend and straighten the feet, toes and legs every half hour

Compression Stockings

Compression stockings help to promote blood circulation during extended periods of standing or sitting. They work by gently squeezing the limb and encouraging the vein and leg muscles to move blood more efficiently. Compression stockings can also help to prevent swelling and alleviate discomfort in the legs. If you have a moderate to high risk of developing DVT, wearing compression garments during long flights or drives can help to prevent blood clots from forming.

At the Vein Centers of Florida & South Baldwin, Dr. Jimenez offers graduated, prescription-strength compression hose for patients suffering from venous disease and associated symptoms. Compression therapy provides a simple and convenient way to ease discomfort, such as aching or heaviness in the legs, and boost circulation during long-distance trips and periods of inactivity.

Precautionary Measures

Healthy blood circulation is crucial for helping to reduce the risk of DVT. Avoiding alcohol and staying hydrated before and during travel can help to ensure the blood flows as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Avoiding sleeping pills is also advised as these are designed to slow down the body’s systems. Upon arrival at your destination, walking and moving around will help to restore normal circulation in the legs.

Schedule a Consultation at the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin

Taking preventive measures is crucial for protecting your vascular health while traveling. However, if you suspect symptoms of DVT or are concerned about your risk factors for developing venous issues, consulting a vein specialist is the most reliable and effective way to ensure you avoid further health complications.

As one of the leading vein experts along the Emerald Coast, Dr. James Jimenez is a highly recognized vein doctor with extensive experience managing all kinds of venous concerns and conditions. A pioneer in minimally invasive procedures, Dr. Jimenez has helped countless men and women achieve better vascular health with minimal side effects and little to no downtime. If you are concerned about your vein health or are preparing for a long trip, contact the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin at 1-800-910-8346 to schedule your consultation today. We can help to ensure a worry-free and relaxed journey.