Traveling abroad by air can be fun and exciting. The anticipation of exploring a new continent can make you giddy with joy, but getting there can make your feet and legs swell. Inactivity while in a flight can cause your blood to pool in the veins in your legs, which in turn causes swelling. Imagine the discomfort when it's finally time to disembark but, even worse, you may be at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), especially if you take birth control pills or have had recent surgery. In fact, deep vein thrombosis is known as economy class syndrome.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce your risks of having swelling in your feet and legs. If you are preparing for a long flight, you'll want to know these tips.
Wear Dress Compression Stockings
Dress compression stockings are designed to help your blood circulate properly, which is important when you are sitting still for long periods of time on an international flight. In fact, according to WebMD, compression stockings can significantly reduce your risk of blood clots. The compression of the stockings puts pressure on the walls of the arteries in your legs, which will cause them to constrict. This increases the velocity of the blood flow through the legs and reduces your risks of swelling and the formation of blood clots.
Choose compression stockings that have a graduated compression as opposed to stockings that have a continual compression. The reason for this is because stockings with a continual compression may cause swelling just above the stockings. Purchase several pairs of compression stockings if you are not expecting to have a washer and dryer available for your use at your destination. That way, you won't have to hand wash the pair you wore for your departure flight, and you can wear a fresh, clean pair of compression stockings for your return flight.
Moving your legs and feet around while you are seated on the airplane will also help to reduce your risks of swelling and blood cots. Therefore, you'll want to keep as much floor space available as possible for your feet. For a long international flight, you'll need to have a carry-on bag with you, but it's important to choose one that is small enough to stow away in the overhead compartment so you won't have to place the bag at your feet. Of course, most carry-on bags are small enough to stow overhead, but keep in mind that other passengers also need to store their bags.
Other than when the pilot instructs everyone to remain in their seats, consider taking an occasional stroll down the aisle and back. It's a good idea to take a walk every hour or so. Before you do, make sure you don't leave any valuables behind and take a quick glance at the seat number so you don't accidentally find your way back to the wrong seat.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol
When your flight attendants come by to offer beverages, avoid choosing ones that contain alcohol, as alcohol causes dehydration.
Instead of choosing alcoholic beverages, drink water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes. It's always important to stay adequately hydrated, but it's especially important on international flights. Dehydration can cause your blood to thicken, which could make you more susceptible to swelling and blood clots.
In conclusion, if you are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis or frequently experience uncomfortable swelling on long flights, be sure to check with your physician before taking an international flight. He or she may have other recommendations for you based on your medical condition.