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Traveler's Thrombosis: When Sitting Still Can Be Dangerous
What Is DVT?
Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
- Swelling of a limb
- Tenderness along the vein
- Redness, paleness, or blueness of the skin of the affected limb
- Personal or family history of deep vein thrombosis
- Not moving your body for long periods of time
- Surgery, especially involving bones or joints
Medical conditions, such as:
- Congestive heart failure
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Blood disorders
- Taking birth control pills or estrogen therapy
- Genetic factors whether inherited or by natural changes in life can change your body protein levels
Preventing DVT While Traveling
- Get up and walk around as much as possible—At least once an hour, if possible. Stand up and stretch your arms and legs in your seat if there is no room to walk.
- Do in-seat calf exercises and heel/toe lifts frequently to keep the blood circulating.
- Arrange optimal seating—Try to sit in an area that affords you some space, such as an aisle, exit row, or bulkhead seat.
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids, but avoid drinks that contain alcohol.
- Avoid smoking—This is especially important if you are taking oral contraceptives.
- Wear loose clothing and avoid tight clothing that restricts blood flow, such as pants with tight waistbands.
- If you are at high risk for developing DVT, your doctor may ask you to wear below the knee compression stockings.
National Institutes of Health http://www.nih.gov
Travelers' Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://wwwnc.cdc.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated Ocotober 2, 2014. Accessed October 13, 2014.
Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travelers Health website. Available at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/deep-vein-thrombosis-and-pulmonary-embolism. Updated August 1, 2013. Updated October 13, 2014.
Explore deep vein thrombosis website. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dvt. Updated October 28, 2011. Accessed October 13, 2014.
Focus on: Emergency ultrasound for deep vein thrombosis. American College of Emergency Physicians website. Available at: http://www.acep.org/content.aspx?id=44490. Accessed October 13, 2014.
Gavish I, Brenner B. Air travel and the risk of thromboembolism. Intern Emerg Med. 2011;6(2):113-116.
Kahn SR, Lim W, Dunn AS, et al. Prevention of VTE in nonsurgical patients: Antithrombotic therapy and prevention of thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2012;141(2 Suppl):e195S-226S.
Philbrick JT, Shumate R, et al. Air travel and venous thromboembolism: A systematic review. J Gen Intern Med. 2007;22(1):107-114.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2014
- Update Date: 10/13/2014