While a relaxing break does us good, there is one hazard you do need to know about if you are travelling any distance – deep vein thrombosis or DVT for short. This means a blood clot that forms in the leg veins and it can affect one in 12 people. There is a risk that the blood clot could break off, flowing straight up to the heart and lungs and this is called a pulmonary embolism, which is a dangerous situation.
If you have the symptoms of DVT pain and swelling in the leg, you must seek medical help quickly to get a diagnosis and treatment. Even if the clot does not break off, it can still scar the veins in the leg and result in permanently swollen and uncomfortable legs, discoloured skin and even leg ulcers.
You may have assumed that DVT could only happen on a long-haul flight, but we also need to be aware of DVT when travelling by other methods. Air travel, of course, heightens the risk because you’re sitting still for a long period and air pressure is lower on the plane than on the ground.
But if you’re sitting in a car or on a coach for a long period, the risk is just as great. This is especially true in hot weather. Train journeys don’t seem to be as bad but that might be because you can get up and move around while you’re travelling.
How can you protect yourself?
1. Wear graduated pressure stockings or travel stockings, which have been properly fitted.
2. Stay hydrated with plenty of non-alcoholic drinks.
3. Get up to walk around and stretch your legs at regular intervals.
4. If you have a family history of blood clots, speak to your GP before you travel.
5. Stop smoking.
6. Keep your weight down. Being overweight is a risk factor.