Plans for travel always bring about health concerns, especially if it is a long distance flight. It is true that air travel can have adverse effects on some people - and there are precautions one has to take. Common medical conditions are DVT, ear blockage accompanied by severe pain, reduced air pressure resulting in need for oxygen, and the jet lag that happens after the long journey.
How to deal with Deep Vein Thrombosis
DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis is a condition that affects some air passengers, especially those with certain risk factors. The symptoms of DVT may not be visible for many days after travel so there are experts who do no see any connection between the two. It could be due to the long hours spent in a sitting position as also the dry cabin air. When one is inactive for a period of time, small clots begin to form in the legs and feet. It is these that may get big enough to block a vein in people with risk factors like cancer, heart conditions, pregnancy, recent surgery, any infection and even obesity. Smokers stand a greater chance of DVT as do women on birth control pills.
Symptoms of DVT
DVT may take several days to manifest. It generally begins with a severe pain in the calf muscles that seems to only get worse over a period of time. There may be swelling and warmth in the area and the skin will turn a bluish red. You must contact our doctor the minute you see any of these symptoms especially after air travel. This is because of the danger of the clot breaking free and getting lodged in one of the arteries to the lungs.
What results is pulmonary embolism which is accompanied by palpitations, shortness of breath, severe chest pain, fever and even fainting spells.
How can DVT be prevented?
There are certain basic precautions one can take during long distance flights to prevent this condition which can turn fatal if left unattended.
- Consult your doctor before boarding the flight. He will in all probability, prescribe a baby aspirin which you take at least half an hour before getting airborne.
- Your dress for the flight should be loose and comfortable as should be your footwear.
- Try not to sit cross legged
- At regular intervals or whenever you feel cramped, get up and take a stroll down the aisle. For this reason, it is always better to opt for an aisle seat so that you can get up whenever you want to.
- Keep sipping plenty of water and juices. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and too much of salty snacks.
- Do not stuff hand baggage under the seat in front of you as you need the space for moving and stretching your legs frequently.
- Special socks are available in the market for support for clots in the legs. If your doctor feels you may be prone to the condition, he may recommend wearing these during the flight.
Another common fallout of long distance air travel is the famous jet lag. This is a condition that arises because one traverses so many time zones. Nausea, stomach upset, general disorientation and insomnia are the conditions people suffer from when jet lagged.
Precautions you can take include sleeping soundly before traveling and drinking plenty of water and fluids before, during and after the flight time. Once you land, adjust your watch to the new time and start to adhere to the schedules in the new time zone which means you go to sleep when the local people do and wake up at the local morning time. Sometimes you may find it hard to keep your eyes open - in which case you may snatch about an hour`s sleep. Treat the day as the locals do and begin your activities in the morning. When you engage in all these activities, you are prompting your body clock to adjust faster. Remember to take in plenty of protein rich foods and veggies. Avoid carbs and starch rich foods like rice, bread or pasta which will make you sleepy.