Because so many of us like to travel and holidays can be one of the most important things in life, we at Entire Health want to make sure that you can do it safely. Travel stockings can certainly play a role in this.
What is the risk?
When travelling long distances, the cramped seats, lack of physical exercise and often insufficient intake of fluids can lead to an increased risk of developing traveller’s thrombosis (blood clots). In certain groups, such as elderly or overweight people, pregnant women, or people with a family history of venous disorders, the probability is particularly high.
Who is a greater risk?
Journeys of more than twelve hours can significantly increase the risk of developing thrombosis. In a recent study, travelling itself was only associated with a two fold increase in the probability of developing. However, this increase markedly if passengers had additional risk factors:
- In the case of travellers with a Body Mass Index > 30, the increased risk was 10 fold.
- In female travellers who were taking oral contraceptives, the risk was increased 20 fold
- In the case of travellers with considerable coagulation problems, the risk was increased 8 fold (1).
What can happen?
Traveller’s thrombosis can develop if the blood flow is impaired, for example, if your knee is bent for a long period. The blood can coagulate and promote the formation of blood clots (thrombi). Most of these occur in the deep vein system. If a thrombus (clot) in the deep leg vein becomes detached, it is transported through the leg veins in the direction of the heart. In the pulmonary artery (a blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs), the clot may become lodged and cause a blockage. This is called a pulmonary embolism and this can be fatal.
How can I keep myself safe?
In order to reduce the risk of traveller’s thrombosis, there are various things that you can do-
- The calf muscle pump should be exercised during long journeys, for example, by regularly standing up, walking around or doing exercises in your seat.
- Light weight and loose clothing is also sensible. Luggage around your feet can limit leg room and should therefore be avoided.
- It is also important that you have enough fluid to drink (most importantly water!). Around a 1 cup (250mL) per hour is recommended). Coffee and alcoholic drinks should be avoided or limited, due to their diuretic effect (increased production of urine).
- Wearing compression stockings is also a simple measure that can be taken to reduce your risk.
Why use compression stockings?
Compression stockings with graduated compression can increase venous blood flow and maintain venous valve function, so that an increase in the pressure in the veins and oedema (swelling) formation is limited and deep vein thrombosis is avoided.
These are available NOW for $49.50 (inc GST)
If you are travelling in the near future, come and see one of our physios to get fitted for your travel stockings. We can also help with some practical exercises to help make your travel as comfortable as possible.
1. Cannegieter, SC et al (2006): Travel related venous thrombosis: results from a large population- based case control study (MEGA study), in: PLoS Med, 3, e307