7 Tips to Stay Safe & Healthy While Travelling
Jun 15, 2021|
“A body in motion stays in motion.” Therefore a body that ceases to move becomes sluggish, weak and stiff. It’s essentially a death knell. I’m not kidding. This is especially true if you travel by plane.
Airplane cabins are pressurized to about 8000 feet. The higher the altitude, the less oxygen there is in the air. Your blood responds to the decreased oxygen by increasing platelet count (platelets allow blood to clot if you cut yourself). An increased platelet count makes blood more viscous which can increase the potential for blood clots to form. The remedy for this is to get out of your seat as soon as that fasten your seat belt sign goes out.
However, plane travel isn’t the only mode of transportation where this can occur.
Long distance travel and blood clots
The reason I keep emphasizing the importance of movement is this, anyone traveling more than four hours at a clip, no matter the mode of transportation, can be at risk for developing blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Blood clots can form in the deep veins (veins below the surface that are not visible through the skin) of your legs during travel because you are sitting still in a confined space for long periods of time. The longer you are immobile, the greater your risk of developing a blood clot.
Many times the blood clot will dissolve on its own. However, serious health problems can occur when a part of the blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs causing a blockage. This is called a pulmonary embolism, and it could be fatal. The good news is there are things you can do to protect your health and reduce your risk of blood clots during long-distance trips.
There are certain segments of the population who are at a greater risk of developing blood clots than others. Be more vigilant if you fall within the following categories:
- Older (risk increases after age 40)
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] greater than 30kg/m2
- Recent surgery or injury (within 3 months)
- Use of estrogen-containing contraceptives (for example, birth control pills, rings, patches)
- Hormone replacement therapy (medical treatment in which hormones are given to reduce the effects of menopause
- Pregnancy and the postpartum period (up to 6 weeks after childbirth)
- Previous blood clot or a family history of blood clots
- Active cancer or recent cancer treatment
- Limited mobility (for example, a leg cast)
- Catheter placed in a large vein
- Varicose veins
What are the symptoms of a Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Half of people with DVT have no symptoms at all. The following are the most common symptoms of DVT that occur in the affected part of the body, usually the arm or the leg.
- Swelling of your leg or arm
- Pain or tenderness that you can’t explain
- Skin that is warm to the touch
- Redness of the skin
If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
What are the symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism?
You can have a PE without any symptoms of a DVT. Symptoms of a PE can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Faster than normal or irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain or discomfort, which usually worsens with a deep breath or coughing
- Coughing up blood
- Lightheadedness or fainting
Seven Tips for Safe and Healthy Travel
- Plane: Get up and walk. Yes, I know it can be annoying to do the, “excuse me, pardon me,” thing. Do it anyway…with grace and a big smile;
- Car: Pull over, get out and stretch. Do some heel raises. Jumping jacks. Get your heart pumping and oxygen flowing;
- Truck: I know that it’s difficult for an 18-wheeler to just pull over and I don’t know whether it’s even legal to do so. At every truck stop, get out, walk;
- Bus/Train: See plane;
- This is a tip you should do every day of your life. Our bodies are made primarily of water. It helps to flush toxins and aides in the metabolic processes our bodies undertake to keep us alive. Take your weight and divide it in half. This is the amount of water you should drink daily.
- Refrain or limit alcohol use while flying. Alcohol dehydrates you and so does flying. Yes, I know a cocktail can be difficult to bypass when you’re in vacay mode. If you must, follow it up with 8 oz of water. This is a good habit to maintain when you drink period.
- Maintain proper skeletal alignment. Seats on airplanes are notoriously uncomfortable mainly because they have to accommodate a wide variety of body types. If you’re lucky enough to be on a plane that provides blankets gratis, roll it up and place it behind your low back to offer support. Make sure you have a cervical pillow to place behind your neck so you can rest comfortably while reading, watching, listening or sleeping.
#SafeTravel #Getupandwalk #PulmonaryEmbolism #DeepVeinThrombosis