Don’t let varicose veins dampen your travelling bug. Take simple precautions to reduce the risk of blood clots, familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms of DVT and embark on new adventures worry-free.

What is DVT?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a clot and thrombus forms in the deep veins of the leg, leading to painful swelling. This condition is an emergency demanding immediate treatment.  

What does DVT feel like?

Throbbing pain, cramp, soreness and swelling in the lower part of the leg, usually the calf. The skin will be warm to touch, and red / blue or darkened around the painful area. If the clot moves to your lungs, you may feel chest pain and / or experience shortness of breath when standing or walking.

DVT signs and symptoms 

The signs and symptoms of a DVT include localised swelling and soreness on one leg. Skin will be warm to touch around the affected area and noticeably red / blue or darker in colour. 

  • Constant and / or throbbing pain in the calf or whole leg 
  • Cramp and soreness
  • Swelling of the leg
  • Red or darkened skin around affected area or a blue discolouration of the leg

“Not everyone has obvious symptoms; but leg cramps, aching, swelling, redness or warmth around the affected area, or a generalised blue discolouration of the leg are all significant warning signs” – Michael Gaunt 

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Top Tips to help avoid DVT when travelling 

Long distance travel can lead to inactivity and sitting for long periods of time.  Prolonged periods of immobility increase your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). 
Plan your trip to ensure you keep active and hydrated before, during and after a long-haul flight, rail, or coach trip. 

  • Choose an aisle seat, or one with extra leg space to encourage movement and avoid placing bags at your feet.
  • Avoid dehydration - drink plenty of fluids before, during and after the journey, avoiding dehydrating beverages like tea, coffee and alcohol.
  • Wear support compression socks or anti-embolism tights to help boost blood flow and reduce blood pooling in the legs. If you have bulging varicose veins, you should seek professional advice to ensure the level of compression doesn’t slightly increase the risk of developing superficial thrombophlebitis.
  • Stretch and change your posture regularly. Lift your ankle and flex and extend it in a pumping action. Repeat 10 times with each ankle. Stand by your seat and do regular calf raises.
  • Walk regularly before, during and after the journey.

“If you have varicose veins or any other risk factors, I recommend you consult a doctor for a thorough venous assessment before a long flight or coach trip”- Michael Gaunt 

DVT risk factors 

You may be at a greater risk of developing DVT if you have any of the following risk factors: 

  • Previous thrombosis or family history
  • Blood clotting abnormalities 
  • Pregnancy and 6 weeks after delivery
  • Recent surgery or trauma
  • Contraceptive pill or HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
  • Cancer
  • Over 60 years old
  • Reduced or impaired mobility 
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking 
  • Varicose veins
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

When should you seek medical help for DVT ?

If you have symptoms of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), such as localised leg pain, swelling, breathlessness and chest pain, take immediate action and call 999 or go to A&E. 
There is a risk of a DVT clot breaking off from the veins in the leg and travelling to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolus. A large pulmonary embolus can be fatal.

Pre-flight varicose vein assessment

Contact Mr Michael Gaunt, consultant vascular surgeon, for an in-depth review of your varicose veins and vascular health. He will personally answer your concerns, examine your legs, perform a Duplex ultrasound scan, and organise a bespoke treatment plan and varicose vein surgery if needed. 

Call 01223 305858 and Mr Gaunt’s administrative team will book a consultation for you.

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