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Cheap Longhaul Flights and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
We've all heard about cheap longhaul flights being related to DVT - often known as "Economy Class Syndrome", but what are the facts and what can we do to protect ourselves? Read this quick guide to find out everything you need to know about flying and DVT.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
A deep vein thrombosis is a clot of blood that develops in a deep vein, most usually in the leg. It causes a localised pain in the leg and can be life threatening if the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. However, it is rare for a blood clot to break off and cause a pulmonary embolism, especially in a blood clot situated below the knee, although it can damage the veins in the legs, causing pain and swelling as the blood "backs up" behind the clot.
Who is at risk of DVT?
Everyone is theoretically at risk of getting a DVT at some time in their lives - some of the risk factors include:
What are the symptoms of DVT?
Symptoms can include swelling, discolouration and pain in the leg. However, these may also be symptoms of other conditions and you should always see a doctor to obtain an accurate diagnosis. The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include chest pain and shortness of breath. This is a life threatening condition and you must see a doctor immediately if you suspect that you have a pulmonary embolism.
What precautions should I take when travelling?
There are some precautions you can take whilst travelling to make DVT less likely. These apply equally to long haul flights or long car, coach or train journeys. It is not yet known conclusively whether long haul flights are more risky than other long distance travel, although it is suspected that they are.
Precautions that you can safely take include:
If you are particularly at risk from DVT, see your doctor before flying and get his advice.
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