Traveler’s Thrombosis (DVT)

Blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can occur in the large veins of the leg or pelvic area during or after long trips by air, bus or train. Sitting still for long periods of time, especially with knees bent, can cause blood to pool in the legs, which increases the risk of a clot forming. For air travel, the risk of DVT, sometimes called traveler’s thrombosis, increases with the length of the flight. If not treated, DVT can lead to pulmonary embolism (PE), a potentially life-threatening condition in which part of the clot in the leg dislodges, travels to the lunges, and blocks a blood vessel.

Risk Factors for DVT

Some of the major risk factors includes:

  • A personal or family history of previous DVT, PE, or blood clotting disorder.
  • Recent major surgery, trauma, or immobilization
  • Cancer within the last 2 years or currently chemotherapy
  • Late pregnancy or the first 6 weeks after childbirth
  • Estrogen-containing medications
  • Older than 50 years of age
  • Severe obesity
  • Recent heart attach or congestive heart failure
  • Large varicose veins or chronic venous insufficiency  

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Symptoms of DVT

Symptoms of DVT can occur during or after a long flight or trip. Travelers who develop any of these symptoms should consult a health care provider. 

  • Leg pain, ache, or discomfort
  • Leg swelling
  • Increased warmth in the leg 
  • Leg skin discoloration (red)
  • Joint pain


Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism

Travelers who develop any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing

Prevention of DVT

preventive measures that can be taken (primarily to prevent blood from pooling in the legs during travel) include:

  • Avoid clothing that binds at the knees or waist. Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Wear graded compression stocking (15 -30 mm Hg at the ankle level).
  • Walk around in the aircraft cabin at least every hour and at transit stops.
  • Stand up and stretch the arms and legs periodically.
  • Exercise leg and calf muscles frequently by flexing and extending the ankles and knees.
  • Avoid crossing the legs as it decreases blood circulation.
  • Use a footrest or elevate feet on a briefcase or small bag to reduce pressure on the back of the thighs from the seat, which can decrease circulation to the legs.
  • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee, and sleeping pills during a long flight. 
  • When possible, avoid sitting in a window seat.
  • Aspirin is of no benefit in preventing DVT

My Opinion and Tips

In addition to safety there are also other factors that are equally important to pay attention to, here are few:

  1. Knowing how to handle Jet Lag.
  2. Medication to carry.
  3. How to handel Motion Sickness.
  4. How to pack for Happy Travel.  
  5. Food Precautions.
  6. Knowing the illnesses from Food and Water.
  7. Knowing the illnesses from insects.

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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