DVT Awareness: Economy Class Syndrome and the Benefits of Compression for Travel

No matter where you’re headed, traveling often means you’re spending a long time seated in a cramped airplane or car, which can put you at risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis. To celebrate DVT Awareness Month, we’re discussing everything DVT, including economy class syndrome and the benefits of compression for travel.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and the Economy Class Syndrome 

Studies have shown that traveling for extended periods of time (longer than 4 hours) can elevate your chances of developing DVT, which is why many have even coined the term “economy class syndrome” to describe DVT symptoms that occur during and following long flights.

When traveling, you are likely in a seated position in a cramped space, so your veins need to work harder to pump blood out of your feet and back to your heart. This causes blood and fluid to build up, which results in swollen feet and legs, and can also lead to the development of a blood clot (or DVT).  

The economy class syndrome refers to a DVT that occurs during a long flight. Blood clots are more likely to form in those who sit in the economy class of flights where there is less space to move around, which is where it gets its name.

Symptoms of DVT:

  • Warm to the touch
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling in one leg
  • Skin discoloration - blue or red

Please be aware that symptoms of DVT don’t always set in immediately. Sometimes, you may not notice symptoms until days after travel.     

One way to help increase your blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots are graduated compression socks!  

Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks for Travel

Compression socks help maintain proper circulation to the lower extremities. Graduated compression means the strongest support of the garment is at the ankles, and gradually decreases towards the top (closest to the knee). This keeps you comfortable and helps avoid symptoms you might otherwise experience during a long travel day.     

  • Promotes circulation
  • Relieves tired, achy legs and feet
  • Avoids varicose and spider veins
  • Reduces swelling
  • Reduces sweat and odor

Whether you’re taking a road trip or flying across the world, get a pair of graduated compression socks for your next long travel day! You won’t regret it.  

Are YOU more likely to develop clots while traveling? You may be at an increased risk if you are:                                      

  • Cancer patient
  • Overweight
  • Pregnant
  • Age 65 or older
  • Smoker
  • Recent surgery
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Blood clotting disorder

For more facts about DVT and PE please visit the National Blood Clot Alliance at stoptheclot.org. There you’ll learn more about blood clot awareness and treatment.

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