5 Simple Steps to Avoid Blood Clots While Travelling
With THANKSGIVING just around the corner and a lot of people will be travelling, including our family, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share an incredibly important message that we learned the hard way, and an experience I hope you can avoid.
We love to travel and we take most opportunities that we can to see the world and experience new places and cultures, and we hope to continue travelling for many more years to witness this AMAZING world that we are a part of. My heart genuinely rejoices when I consider what a BEAUTIFUL school for learning and living GOD has given us!! HIS creations are MAGNIFICENT!!
Over a decade ago we began travelling regularly to CHINA, an amazing country that has a piece of my heart. It is a long flight and takes about 24 hours to make the trip, but is well worth it!! Put it on your travel bucket list!! A few years ago my husband had back to back trips to China planned, the first one with me, the second one alone. During the time in between trips he felt constant pain in his calf muscle which he described as a consistent charlie horse, and just plain didn't feel well. We didn't think too much of it and chalked it up to travel fatigue and jet lag. Gratefully, a friend of ours had suggested that my husband wear compression stockings on his flight back to China and to also take Aspirin as he traveled. As it turns out, these two things potentially saved my sweetheart's life.
Shortly arriving in China he ended up in an International Clinic and was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) which are blood clots in the deep veins. We quickly learned how serious DVT is and that if not treated properly, or caught in time, could lead to pulmonary embolism and often times death. Miraculously, my husband was literally cared for by earthly angels, which is another story for another blog post, and he safely returned home from China. We have learned much more about DVT since then and how to treat it and avoid further encounters with it.
One of the first things we learned is that DVT often occurs due to sitting for long periods of time, such as an air flight so we have come up with some strategies that help both us avoid DVT on flights. These same strategies can be adapted for long car rides or a job where you sit for long periods of time. I'm sharing these with you here so that you can avoid DVT and have an enjoyable trip wherever life takes you.
Since most DVT occurs in the legs it is a great idea to move those legs as much as possible during a flight. Write the alphabet in the air with each foot or just circle your feet in both directions for a few minutes. You can do this fairly indiscreetly under the chair in front of you while watching a movie or you can get up every couple of hours and walk around, even if it's a trip to the bathroom. Stretch your legs during the times you are up as well. My husband has develop the habit of getting up at the end of each movie to stretch and get the blood circulating. If you're not a movie watcher, set a timer to get up every couple of hours.
2. DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Drinking water increases blood circulation. Dehydration can lead to ankle swelling and pain. I have noticed that airlines have improved in providing water more frequently throughout flights but if not, they are more than willing to provide you with water at your request. They are concerned for your well being and want your return business so don't be afraid to ask.
*BONUS--Drinking lots of water will increase those trips to the bathroom which will help you to move around! (See #1)
3. TAKE ASPIRIN
In short, Aspirin slows blood clotting. This is an over the counter medication but if you have any questions CHECK WITH YOUR MEDICAL CARE PROVIDER before taking this. Your provider can discuss dosage with you and answer any questions you may have.
4. WEAR COMPRESSION STOCKINGS
Compression stockings are similar to pantyhose but are made from a fabric that helps create pressure around the leg which aids in blood flow to the lungs and heart. They also help keep swelling in the ankles and legs down. Knee high stockings are fine for most people but thigh high are better if you've had DVT issues in the past. Medical supply stores are a great place for purchasing compression stockings but many drug stores carry them as well, which is a great place to start if you're new to wearing compression stockings while flying.
5. WALK, WALK, WALK
Airports are a great place to walk! We've made a practice of walking as much as possible at airports. During layovers and/or while waiting to board a flight, we walk! There will be plenty of time to sit on the airplane so use the ground time to get the blood flowing and the heart pumping. We walked SEVERAL MILES within an international airport during a long layover on a trip a few years ago which also helped the layover time pass beautifully. The bottom line, wear good walking shoes, skip the moving sidewalks, and walk every moment you can!!
These few changes that we have incorporated into our travels have allowed us the opportunity to continue to see the world! I wish safe travels for each of you!!
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