It is that time of the year again for summer vacations here in the northern hemisphere. Each year we send a reminder to our clients about how important it is to wear your compression socks or compression stockings especially when you travel. The number of travel-related vein conditions is increasing each year. No matter how you travel, blood circulation in the lower extremity is reduced simply because you sitting in one position. Symptoms such as heavy legs, leg pain or swollen feet and ankles develop. The reduced circulation in the lower leg can lead to blood clots or even worse the blood clots could break loose and travel to the lungs, resulting in pulmonary embolism which can be deadly.
Blood clots are more common in the left leg, possibly because the femoral artery in that leg passes anterior to the vein, and may compress the vein. Symptoms do not usually develop immediately after travel, but more likely within three days of arrival at your destination. Symptoms may not manifest themselves for up to two weeks after a long trip.
DVT kills more people every year than AIDS, breast cancer, and traffic accidents combined. You should become familiar with the symptoms of DVT so you may be your own activist.
Signs and Symptoms of DVT
- Pain in the leg or pelvis region
- Tenderness and swelling of the leg
- Discoloration of the leg (reddish)
- Areas of the leg or pelvis region that feel warm to touch
- Whole leg swelling
Symptoms of DVT can be similar to other conditions, like a pulled muscle or “Charlie horse” and can delay diagnosis. Some people may have no symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain-sharp, stabbing: may get worse with deep breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus
If you suspect a pulmonary embolism, call 911 or go to the nearest ER. Having this knowledge could save your life!
Things You Can Do To Prevent DVT When You Travel
- Wear comfortable, loose clothing
- Get up and walk once every hour or two
- Make figure eights and circles with your feet while seated
- Breathe deeply frequently
- Drink plenty of water (Avoid excessive alcohol intake – it dehydrates the body)
- Elevate your feet when possible
Just remember to wear support socks or support stockings when you travel and continue to wear them for the next day after your arrival at your destination to make sure your legs return to normal size. Encourage friends or family who are traveling with you to do the same. (They may not know about the dangers of Travel Related DVT.) They may not have any problems, so a 15-20mmHg compression may be adequate for them. If they are looking for a low cost product, each of our major manufacturers makes a low cost garment that would be appropriate for travel… Jobst ReliefMediven Assure Sigvaris AccessJuzo Basic. We also have economical products from and Truform that may fit their budget better.
Wearing compression stockings during travel has been proven to reduce heavy feeling legs, swollen feet and ankles as well as the likelihood of developing DVT.
Note: If you have an existing venous conditions, currently having swelling or are at risk for DVT, see your doctor before long distance travel (more than four hours). He/she will prescribe a garment in the appropriate compression for you for travel or send you to a knowledgeable company such as Support Hose Store who can assist you.
Monday the 72-year opera star, Placido Domingo, was admitted to a Madrid, Spain hospital with a pulmonary embolism caused by a Deep Vein Thrombosis. He has cancelled up to 5 appearances as his doctors have ordered him to rest for three to four weeks. Domingo is expected to make a full recovery. Contributing factors could have been the singer’s age as well as his heavy performance schedule that he maintains.
According to the National Blood Clot Alliance “350,000 – 600,000 in the United States develop blood clots every year. About 100,000 people in the U.S. die each year from blood clots…”. That means about 1 in 3.5 to 1 in 6 people in the U.S. who get blood clots die from them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like those odds. I ‘ll be wearing my support stockings!
Happy and Safe Travels,