Increased post-pandemic travel also brings an increased risk of life-threatening thrombosis

According to The Vacationer’s “Summer Travel Survey & Trends 2023” report, eighty-five percent of Americans plan to travel this summer. However, with increased travel comes an increased risk of thrombosis, a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur when blood clots form in the blood vessels.

Thrombosis is a serious condition that affects millions of people worldwide each year. It is caused by the formation of blood clots within the blood vessels, which can cause pain, swelling, and even death if left untreated. While anyone can develop thrombosis, certain factors can increase your risk, including long periods of sitting or standing, dehydration, and obesity.

“Unfortunately, thrombosis does not discriminate when it comes to age, lifestyle, gender, or health status and everyone can be at risk. To adequately avoid this cause of preventable death, individuals must understand the signs and symptoms and know what can be done proactively to prevent clots from forming,” said Dr. Erich De Paula, vice chair of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee. “Thrombosis, or blood clots, is the underlying pathology of heart attack, thromboembolic stroke, and venous thromboembolism (VTE), the top three cardiovascular killers. The risk of developing a life-threatening clot, particularly a VTE, is significantly higher while traveling.”

Traveling long distances by car, bus, train, or plane can increase your risk of developing thrombosis, as extended periods of sitting–especially if more than 4 hours at a time — can cause blood to pool in the legs and increase the risk of clot formation. As such, taking steps to prevent thrombosis when traveling is essential.

One of the most effective ways to prevent thrombosis is to stay active. Regular movement helps to keep the blood flowing and can reduce the risk of clot formation. If you’re traveling by car, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and walk around. Try to get out of the car every two to three hours, even if only for a few minutes. When traveling by bus, train, or plane, take advantage of opportunities to walk up and down the aisle and stretch your legs.

Exercising your calf muscles and stretching your legs while you’re sitting can also help reduce the risk of developing thrombosis. Travelers can take a few minutes to raise and lower their heels while keeping their toes on the floor and raise and lower their toes while keeping their heels on the floor.

Another way to prevent thrombosis during travel is to wear compression stockings. These specialized socks apply pressure to the legs, helping to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of clot formation. Compression stockings are available over-the-counter and can be worn throughout the day while traveling.

Staying hydrated is also essential when traveling to prevent thrombosis. Dehydration can thicken the blood, making it more likely to clot. Be sure to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate the body.

When possible, also try to elevate your legs during travel. This can help to reduce swelling and improve blood flow.

Talk to your doctor before traveling if you have a family history of thrombosis or any pre-existing medical conditions that increase your risk of thrombosis, such as blood clotting disorders or varicose veins. They may recommend additional steps to prevent thrombosis, such as medication or specialized exercises.

In conclusion, while traveling is a great way to explore the world and make memories, taking steps to prevent thrombosis is essential. Staying active, wearing compression stockings, staying hydrated, elevating your legs, and talking to your doctor are all effective ways to reduce your risk of developing this serious condition. By taking these simple steps, you can enjoy your travels with peace of mind and stay healthy and safe along the way.

Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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