Travel is obviously an amazing way to learn about new cultures, create memories with your friends and family, and build up your social media following with scenic pics. However, there are a few risks to think of if you’re taking frequent lengthy flights across the globe.
What Counts As A “Long-Distance” Trip?
A trip is considered a long-distance trip, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when it goes past the four-hour mark. So if you’re leaving the East Coast and heading to California, or anywhere out of a four-hour range by car, plane or train, you could be at risk for developing blood clots, or Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Lengthy periods of sitting on a plane or anywhere in a confined space for hours can put you at risk of blood clots because of limited circulation through your legs.
Typically, if you develop a blood clot, it will dissolve on its own without causing you any issues. But if a blood clot doesn’t dissolve, it can break apart and travel to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, which could be fatal.
Know Your Risks
All of this may sound scary, but you should know that generally, your risk of death from a blood clot is pretty small. However, if you have one or more of the conditions listed below, your risk is a bit higher:
-Older age (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 3 months 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)
-A catheter placed in a large vein
Even if you don’t have one of these conditions, it won’t hurt to ask your doctor about your likelihood of developing a blood clot on the next big trip. Just to be safe!
Are There Any Warning Signs To Look Out For?
In short, yes. However, the early signs of a blood clot can be easy to ignore. So it helps to know what to pay attention to, and which signs should send you straight to a doctor.
1. Swelling of your leg or arm
2. Pain or tenderness that you can’t explain
3. Skin that is warm to the touch
4. Redness of the skin
If the worst happens and the blood clot travels to your lungs, these are the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism. If you notice any of these, seek medical attention right away: