Many of you will probably be traveling this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve been reflecting on the things you are thankful for this year. I am thankful to be over a year into my recovery without a second clotting incident, and I am thankful that my INR has finally stabilized. I am thankful for friends and family who have been there to pull me through some hard times this past year, and I am thankful for doctors who listen to my concerns and are genuine in my care. Above all, I am thankful to be alive after the DVT/PE that almost claimed my life in June 2012. While I have a lot to be grateful for, when it comes down to it, I also worry about things that I didn’t have to prior to my blood clot. As many of you know, DVT diagnosis changes the way we must look at sitting for long periods of time, such as when we are traveling. Read on to learn six steps to reduce your risk of DVT while traveling.
Over 43 million Americans are expected to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday this year (www.clotconnect.org) and one thing is for sure, we all do a lot of sitting over the holidays! While the overall incidence of travel-related blood clots is relatively low, there is an increase in risk with any form of lengthy immobility, including when seated for a prolonged period of time when traveling by car, bus, train or plane. In general, clotting risk increases with the length of travel time (the greater the travel time, the greater the risk) and with the addition of pre-existing risk factors.
However, just because you have a history of DVT or are worried about increasing your risk, does not mean you have to give up traveling this holiday season. You can still travel while taking some very simple precautions!
Six Steps to Reduce Your Risk of DVT while Traveling *
- Move More! Get out of your seat and walk the aisle when permitted on a plane or stop frequently (every hour or so) when traveling by car. Flex your toes, ankles and knees when sitting down. You could also raise your heels with your toes on the floor; and then raise your toes with your heels on the floor – anything to keep circulation moving while you are sitting.
- Drink plenty of fluids, mainly water. Proper hydration helps to decrease your risk for a DVT. Be sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine on long trips as well.
- Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes.
- Do not cross your legs. Crossing your legs can interfere with circulation.
- Wear compression stockings while traveling. Especially if you have a history of blood clots.
- Be aware of blood clot symptoms. The symptoms of DVT can include swelling, usually in one leg; leg tenderness or pain; red or blue tinted skin discoloration; and/or leg is warm to the touch. The symptoms of PE can include sudden shortness of breath; chest pain that may feel like a stabbing sensation or get worse with each breath; rapid heart rate; and/or an unexplained cough sometimes with bloody mucus. If you experience any of these symptoms, get medical help right away.
Share your story. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Are you worried about traveling post-DVT? What precautions are you taking to stay safe on the road?
There is hope for healing and you are not alone,