Road trip and air travel tips to avoid deep vein thrombosis
Nov 19, 2012, 9:52 a.m.
One of the most important trip tips for seniors to remember is to keep moving when travelling on long flights or road trips, in order to avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and related problems. This is one of many travel health risks, and it can sneak up on you if you forget to just make a few adjustments in your body position while travelling.
What Causes DVT?
The problems arise when older persons in particular maintain a stationary position, such as sitting for long hours during a flight or road trip. This problem occurs when a clot forms in the leg veins or upper extremities, and it blocks the flow of blood to the heart. According to WebMD.com, this also can cause damage to one-way valves found in the veins. When a clot later breaks free, it can travel to the lungs or other major organs and cause problems including death.
Is DVT Common?
This is not an isolated incident; about 600,000 Americans suffer deep vein thrombosis (DVT) every year, with about a one percent death rate. This means about 6000 deaths that might have been preventable. Exercise is a main deterrent to DVT incidences. Staying active, especially in senior years, is an excellent way to help avoid DVT. Travel health risks of a DVT occurrence can be elevated purely due to the long periods of inactivity that happen while you are in transit.
How to Avoid DVT on Trips
Trip tips to help you avoid deep vein thrombosis include making sure that you do some type of preventive activity, such as stretching, walking and staying hydrated with sufficient liquids. While traveling by car, make frequent rest stops, perhaps as often as every 2 hours, to walk around a bit and stretch your legs, to keep the blood flowing smoothly. If you cannot get out of the car or are sitting for more than a 4 hour trip by aircraft, stretch in your seat location. Lift toes up and down, move your feet and lower legs up and down, and stretch out as much as you possibly can. Stand up and sit down occasionally, and change your positions. If you have a leg rest, be sure to move to a sitting position from time to time, and then resume your rest if you are tired or bored. Learn about passive stretching exercise, called Isometric exercises, where, for example, you might stand in a doorway and push hard against the doorframe.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Other trip tips that also apply to building a healthy lifestyle for seniors include keeping your weight down by eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking or quitting that habit entirely. Get regular medical checkups that include regulation of your blood pressure to optimum levels. A family history of blood-clot problems can also be a sign that you should watch for this potentially deadly problem.
In some situations, such as when a person is bedridden, devices can be used to simulate movement and exercise. A sleeve-like device that applies compression and release on the feet, for example, is used immediately following hip replacement surgery when the patient is in early recovery and bedridden. Sometimes pain medications are also prescribed to enable a person to move around more easily. For travelling, try wearing compression stockings, but avoid tight fitting socks, crossing legs or otherwise restricting blood flow in the legs and feet.
Enjoy your travel and fun in retirement and during early senior years, but do it in a safer manner by paying attention to small things like inactivity during road trips or air travel. A step in time can save a lot more than you can imagine; your future health can be improved by movement.
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