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How to Protect Your Veins During Travel

Vein patient

Long flights and long car rides can take a toll on even the healthiest individuals. For people living with vein-related conditions, long periods of travel are not only distressing but can lead to serious medical issues. Conditions like varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis carry a significant risk for complications and these risks only increase with long periods of travel.

The good news is there are a few simple things you can do to protect your vessels during travel. By gaining a thorough understanding of your vein condition and following a few basic preventative steps, you can make it through your travel days without a problem. The Vein Care Center has the information you need to protect your veins and your health while on the road.

How Travel Can Harm Your Vein Health

Long periods of travel in a plane or car can be harmful to the body’s circulatory system, particularly the legs. Remaining seated for an extended period can make it harder for the veins to send blood back to the heart. This added pressure on the vessels can allow circulation to slow and blood to pool it the lower leg veins, which can result in potentially serious venous disorders.

Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is one of the more serious complications that can arise after a day of traveling. Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a clump of blood cells forms a clot in a vein deep inside the body. The blood clot formation can appear in any vein of the leg and often develops without any noticeable symptoms. If the clot were to break free, it could travel through the bloodstream and become lodged in the pulmonary artery, a potentially life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism.

People affected by varicose veins face an even higher risk of developing DVT since blood circulation through the veins is already compromised. People with visible varicose veins need to be even more vigilant while traveling to ensure DVT does not develop. The good news is there are a few simple ways to lower your risk for DVT when on the road or anytime.

DVT Risk Factors

Your risk of developing DVT increases when certain other conditions are present. DVT risk factors to be aware of include:

  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • History of blood clotting
  • High cholesterol
  • Being over the age of 60
  • Using oral contraceptives
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of blood clotting
  • High blood pressure

Simple Ways to Protect Your Veins When Traveling

Below are a few of the steps you can take to lower your risk for problems while you are on the road:

Compression Stockings

With varicose veins or a high risk of DVT, it is essential to support healthy blood circulation while traveling. Compression stockings offer a practical solution for keeping the blood moving during travel. Compression stockings work by applying gradient pressure to the legs, which helps counteract the effects of slow blood circulation.

Compression stockings work by exerting the most pressure at the bottom of the leg while gradually easing pressure as they move up the calf. In effect, they compress the veins on the surface of the skin and force blood to flow through them. While you can find a pair of compression stockings at most any drugstore, it is best to talk to Dr. Aggarwal and our team about the brand and strength that will work the best for you, so we can get you fitted for the right pair.

Keep Moving

Since inactivity is the primary reason why traveling is hard on the veins, remaining as active as possible while traveling can help protect your veins on long trips. Although airplane and car rides only allow for limited movement, there are a few ways you can work the muscles and promote healthy circulation even while you are in your seat. Simple ways to keep moving include:

  • Press the balls of your feet into the floor to increase blood flow
  • Recline your seat, so you can elevate your legs and promote circulation
  • Take a walk in the aisle of the cabin every hour if possible or stop the car to walk around
  • Leave the area in front of your seat free of bags so you can stretch out your legs
  • Do bending and straightening movements for the legs, feet and toes frequently to promote blood flow

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is critical all of the time, but it becomes even more essential during air travel. Keeping the body hydrated while flying helps keep vein walls from narrowing, which is what happens during long periods of inactivity. Since alcohol and caffeine tend to deplete the body’s hydration levels, it’s best to avoid both while traveling, while increasing your water intake.

Also, low moisture levels along with increases in altitude and cabin pressure cause the body to go through physiological changes. These conditions place added stress on the circulatory system. The moisture level in airplane cabin levels run extremely low -as low as five to 10 percent- which is comparable to desert-like conditions, so consuming ample water before, during and after your flight is a must.

Medication Treatments

If your risk for DVT is considered very high, medication may be available to help protect your veins during travel. Consult with a physician who specializes in vein-related conditions to determine whether this is a viable option for you. Medications commonly used to prevent vein-related problems from developing include:

  • Blood thinning agents
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Thrombolytic medications, which work to dissolve clots
  • Pain relief drugs

Do’s and Don’ts Before Traveling

Anything that slows down the body’s circulatory system will only make vein problems worse, so avoid taking sleeping pills or other substances that could affect circulation before traveling. Tight or uncomfortable clothing can also interfere with healthy circulation, so always wear loose, comfortable clothing on travel days. This constriction is particularly problematic around the waistline, where undue pressure can prevent blood from moving freely from the legs to the heart.

Call for More Information

While staying active and hydrated can go a long way towards protecting your veins during travel, getting treatment for developing vein problems offers the best protection, both now and in the future. A vein specialist like Dr. Aggarwal is best suited to diagnose and treat your condition. Minimally-invasive procedures are now available that can eliminate varicose veins and reduce your risk for developing DVT.

Dr. Aggarwal is certified in Venous & Lymphatic Medicine by the American Board of Vascular and Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM). As the only accredited vein center in the area, the Vein Care Center is proud to use cutting-edge diagnostic and treatment techniques to accurately identify your condition and provide the therapy that’s right for you. Contact us today at 419-227-4472 to schedule your vein screening today.

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