Travel and leg health
“Economy class syndrome” is used to describe the leg health symptoms experienced by plane, train, bus and car travel and is associated with the serious condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Normal blood circulation is restricted during periods of extended inactivity. Blood can thus pool in the veins and form a deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a deep vein. The problem may not be evident until a traveler arrives and begins normal activity. A clot can dislodge and migrate to the lungs where it can cause a pulmonary embolism, a dangerous and often deadly condition.
• Bend your feet while seated
• Avoid Dehydration
• Avoid Crossing your Legs
• Wear graduated compression
The simple solution: compression socks and stockings
To prevent swelling and to lower the risk of DVTs, physicians strongly recommend compression socks and stockings to provide the necessary graduated compression to maintain optimum circulation.
What is traveler's thrombosis?
Traveler’s thrombosis is Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT, a thrombosis caused by a blood clot in a deep vein and can be life-threatening. It can incur by sitting for long periods of time. Those who fly for business or pleasure know that it is cramped on a plane. Economy class passengers sit in about 17 inches wide by 30 inches-deep seat.
When passengers sit motionless for hours in airplanes, the blood circulation slows down. The dry air and the low air pressure are contributory factors. This is compounded by the sitting and the bent or crossed legs. The kinked veins now have to work hard to pump the blood out of the feet back to the heart. The blood can pool in the legs and the watery components can leak through the venous wall into the tissues.
What happens as a result? The feet and legs swell up, blood thickens and, if a vein is then blocked, a thrombosis may develop. A deep vein thrombosis can break loose and cause a serious problem in the lung, called a pulmonary embolism. Deep vein blood clots typically form in your thigh or lower leg, but they can also develop in other areas of your body.
Symptoms of a DVT
- Swelling in your foot, ankle or leg, usually on one side
- Cramping pain in your affected leg that usually begins in your calf
- Severe, unexplained pain in your foot and ankle
- An area of skin that feels warmer than the skin on the surrounding areas
- Skin over the affected area turning pale or a reddish or bluish color
Here are some tips on how you can prevent DVT’s:
- Drink plenty of water or tea or similar drinks
- Try out foot exercises: flexing, extending and circling your ankles can activate the blood circulation
Medical compression garments are an ideal travelling companion for those in high-risk groups (e.g., individuals shortly after an operation), or middle risk groups (e.g., travelers over 60, or who are overweight or have a familial susceptibility to thrombosis). Medical compression garments apply pressure that prevents blood from pooling in your veins.
Travel socks minimize thrombosis risk
People with healthy veins can minimize the risk of a thrombosis and swollen legs with travel socks. The precisely defined compression pressure (medi® compression technology) diminishes towards the knee. The veins are squeezed together and the venous valves can close again. The “used” blood flows back to the heart faster.