Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is when a blood clot forms in a vein, this often occurs in the legs because of long periods of immobility, but it can happen elsewhere in the body, for example the arms.
If a small part of the clot breaks away it can be extremely dangerous, as it will then travel around the body and could enter the lungs, causing further problems.
People who regularly travel or long haul travellers are most at risk from DVT, however there is no need to panic.
There are some extremely simple steps to keep active and avoid DVT;
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids such as water and juice throughout the journey, to avoid dehydration. Try to avoid lots of alcohol and caffeine as this will not help.
- Every fifteen minutes to half an hour, try to exercise your leg muscles whilst sitting, by flexing your ankles and knees, or by pressing the balls of your feet onto the floor as hard as you can. This should increase the blood flow around your legs.
- If it is safe to do so, at least once an hour, try to walk up and down the airplane, coach or train aisle. This should give your body a short rest from the sitting position and increase blood flow.
- Try not to take sleeping tablets; if you sleep for the entire journey you could potentially be immobile for a very long time.
- If the plane or coach stops to re-fuel or for a short stop over, exit and walk around in the fresh air for a bit (make sure you’re allowed to do so first).
- Compression stockings are available at most airports and pharmacies; these will also help to keep blood flowing around the body.
- If you are worried, talk to your doctor before travel.