Question: I am a healthy 45 year old with no circulation problems. I'll be taking long flights (Washington, DC, Bhutan) and wonder if I should wear compression socks as a precaution. Would drugstore grade be adequate or should i order medical quality?
Answer: Even in patients with normal circulatory systems, long bouts of travel is when one is at increased risk of developing a blood clot. This is due to many factors including altitude, dehydration, and long periods of not moving. Compression stockings can minimize this risk; both >20mmHg and 20-30mmHg are well tolerated and can be obtained without a prescription. The most important thing is that they fit well and are comfortable.
Additionally, if you can stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water in-flight, this will further minimize your risk, and help to minimize “jet lag”. Lastly, if you can move about the cabin for a bit several times during the flight to stretch your legs; or at minimum flex and extend your feet, ankles and knees, engaging your calf muscles, hamstrings, quads, and glutes, this will help keep the blood moving in the body.
Have safe travels!