How often have you opted for the window seat during a long-haul flight? It’s great watching the world go by from the sky, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, sitting on a plane for a long time can have a negative effect on your health with increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT, a.k.a Economy Class Syndrome)
DVT occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) develops in the lower leg and then breaks free, traveling towards the heart causing damages that can be permanent.
The good news is that it is possible to prevent this from happening following few simple tips.
First of all, despite its name. economy class syndrome can happen in any class of long-haul flight, be it economy, business, or first class, and as many as 5% of passengers may be at risk. The same goes for desk-workers who sit for eight or more hours a day, and people who travel in cars, trains or cars for hours on end.
Typically, the likelihood of developing DVT depends on several factors, such as your weight, gender, health, pregnancy, medication, and how long the flight is.
As an airplane ascends, the pressure in the cabin falls. So, by the time the plane reaches its cruising altitude, the pressure in the cabin can drop to as low as 8,000 feet up in a mountain accelerating dehydration that increases the risk of DVT as it thickens your blood.
Some of the warning signs of DVT are tenderness, pain, heaviness, cramping or swelling in the legs as well as blue toes and redness on the legs.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to limit your chances of developing economy class syndrome, and they are pretty easy to implement.
Drop the Weight
Obesity doubles your risk of DVT, especially in women taller than five foot six or men taller than six feet.
That’s because taller individuals have to pump blood farther and are working against the force of gravity which can reduce blood flow and circulation in the legs.
Raising and lowering your heels while seated, and walking to engage your calf muscles helps to squeeze the veins and propel blood upwards, preventing DVT.
Incidentally, immobility is the reason why long flights are the riskiest for economy class syndrome, but so is sitting at a desk all day long.
On a plane, it is recommended that you get up and walk at least every hour and raise and lower the heels and rotate your ankles when you are sitting. You should also avoid crossing your feet when sitting for extended periods.
Add Fish to Your Diet
Eating fish three or more times a week can lower your chances of developing DVT by as much as 48 percent. The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish or fish oil supplements are known to reduce inflammation and therefore prevent vein damage and clot formation.
Stay Hydrated, But Avoid Alcohol
When sitting for prolonged periods, keep your body hydrated. But avoid alcohol and caffeine which deplete the body of hydration. Overall, you can’t go wrong with water for good health.
Wear Compression Socks
Compression socks can help you avoid the risk of blood clots and DVT. They can also help to ease or prevent the symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome. These special type of socks are designed to stabilize the tissues and restrict muscle movement helping the blood to flow back up from the lower legs to the heart.
Prefer Cotton Compression Socks
You should try to avoid the flimsy, ineffective compression stockings sold in multipacks and the synthetic ones, the former because they are just no better than a regular pair of socks and do not provide enough support, the latter because synthetic materials, when worn for long periods can irritate the skin leading to rashes and allergies. In addition to this, synthetic socks make you sweat making your feet literally freeze on the plane because of the air conditioning (try to get some sleep in such conditions…).
Cotton compression socks are an excellent alternative to synthetic hoses as they are just as effective as traditional support stockings. They contain a high percentage of cotton that is naturally hypoallergenic and breathable, so your legs are protected and stay comfortable, even after wearing them for long hours. In addition to this, cotton compression socks can be used every day and are the ideal travel companion providing the support that your legs need when walking about visiting your travel destination.
SocksLane’s Women Cotton Compression Socks are made of 65% Natural Combed Cotton and specifically chosen high-quality stretch fibers. They are specifically designed for women who do not want to compromise on quality and prefer to wear natural fibers in contact with their skin.
SocksLane Women’s Cotton Compression Socks are comfortable, durable and are available in different trendy models and no one will ever notice that you are wearing medicated stockings.
You can find some great workout tips to use while wearing your cotton compression socks right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWGWyliQDlo&index=2&list=PLGSZfeCOcMgA-mlDOyvFumPMsqfY4ZlWr