Ready to enjoy some summer time travel? Make sure your trip is not shortened by a serious health concern. Small, cramped seating on an airplane, or sitting in a car for a prolonged period of time, may be more of a problem that just causing discomfort. Inactivity in a confined space can slow circulation and cause legs to swell and become painful. Sitting with bent knees compress the deep vein behind the knee, potentially creating a blood clot to form.
Dry air, decreased oxygen, low cabin pressure, and alcohol consumption in a plane cause dehydration, making blood more concentrated and sluggish. Any combination of these factors can increase the risk of a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the leg).
You’re at an even greater risk of a DVT if you have an inherited condition that increases your risk of a blood clot, are being treated for cancer, have varicose veins, or have low blood flow due to recent surgery. Additional factors which increase your risk of DVT include: being pregnant, overweight, taking birth control pills or hormone therapy, or over the age of 60.
If you cannot get up or out of your seat; exercise in your seat by flexing your feet and moving your legs to improve blood flow in the calves; try 30-40 of these movements every half-hour.
Other things to consider when traveling long distances: