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International Air Travel - Can It Cause Deep-Vein Thrombosis?

Aug 14, 2008
What causes deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and how serious can this in-flight medical condition be for air travelers?

Deep vein thrombosis happens when a blood clot forms in the lower leg. If the clot breaks off, it may travel to the lungs. That can then be fatal. If you have symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling in a leg, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.

What causes the above symptoms to develop?

DVT can develop in your lower legs anytime, especially when you sit in one position for an extended period of time without moving. Some research findings show that you are at three times the risk of developing this serious medical condition when you fly. Driving, traveling by bus or train, and even sitting in your comfortable easy chair at home can cause it.

How can air passengers protect themselves from this life-threatening condition?

You can help prevent this condition by increasing circulation in your legs. Many experts suggest wearing loose clothing and avoiding tight fitting pants or stockings, movie and exercise your legs frequently when sitting, changing your sitting position often, not sitting with you legs crossed, walking up and down the aisle every half-hour or so and drinking lots of water so you do not become dehydrated.

Obesity, or the use of oral contraceptives can also increase the risk of DVT.

If you are predisposed to any of the above in-flight risks, especially the swelling of your legs and feet, you might want to consider booking an aisle seat to give you a little more room to move and enable you to get up and walk around at anytime without disturbing your fellow passengers.
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