The human body wasn’t designed to sit immobilized for long periods of time. If you have a typical desk job, you probably take frequent breaks throughout the day to stretch your legs, get the blood circulation flowing, catch a breath of fresh air, and loosen up stiff muscles. In an airplane, however, the need for routine breaks is not as conspicuous. That’s because you’re usually watching movies, sleeping, eating, and relaxing. However, if you don’t take the necessary precautions, you run the risk of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) -- a condition where blood clots form in the leg, cutting off circulation to your heart, lungs, and brain.
The following is a brief list of general safety tips, but make sure you run each one by your physician to see if it is suitable for your particular age, weight, sex, and medical condition:
- Avoid heavy medications and sleeping aids if possible. It’s quite popular for medical tourism travelers to take various sleeping pills in preparation for long flights. But if some type of medical complication arises (like DVT), you might not be alert enough to properly address the situation.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the duration of your flight. Not only will this decrease the likelihood of deep venous thrombosis, but it will also help lessen the effects of jet lag.
- Avoid diuretic drinks like caffeinated soda, tea, coffee, and alcohol. These beverages make you go to the bathroom more often and dehydrate you.
- Try to book emergency exit row seats as this affords you the greatest flexibility and space. If emergency exit row seats are unavailable, make sure that you don’t place any belongings underneath the seat in front of you. Doing so will restrict your ability to move your legs and feet.
- When permissible, take frequent breaks in order to stretch your legs.
If you ever feel leg pain, chest pain, arm pain, dizziness, nausea, migraines, or anything else out of the ordinary, alert the closest flight attendant immediately. DVT is a very serious medical complication that demands proper attention as soon as possible. Left untreated, it can lead to a whole host of illnesses and diseases, and in some cases, even death.