How to Keep Your Varicose Veins Safe During Holiday Travel

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
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Planning a long trip this holiday season? If you have varicose veins, you need to take some precautions before you embark.

With the holiday season almost here, you’ve probably started making travel plans to visit family and friends. While it’s always fun to catch up with loved ones, people with varicose veins need to take precautions to make sure a vein health emergency doesn’t spoil the seasonal festivities.

If you have varicose veins and plan to make a long trek this holiday season, these tips will not only lessen varicose vein discomfort, but also reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg.

Link Between Long Trips & DVT

Studies have long pointed to a link between a heightened risk of DVT and extended plane journeys. After analyzing more than 1,900 travelers, one study estimated a twofold increase in DVT after a trip either by plane, car, or train of more than four hours. DVT is dangerous because it’s possible for a clot will break away and lodge in the lungs, depriving the organ of oxygen and leading to a life-threatening medical situation.

People with varicose veins are at higher risk of developing DVT than the general population, according to a 2018 study. Therefore, if you have varicose veins and have purchased a ticket to a far-off destination, you need to be doubly protective of your vein health when you travel.

Keeping Varicose Veins Safe as You Fly

Varicose veins form when tiny valves in the leg veins weaken and fail to push blood back to the heart. Overwhelmed by an excessive amount of blood and gravity, the valves permit blood to pool within the vein walls, which eventually leads to the overstretched vein popping up on the legs as bulging twists of varicose veins.

Age, weight, pregnancy, and family history all contribute to whether you’ll get varicose veins or not. But another major risk factor is sitting for long periods — as you would on a plane or car trip. What’s more, air pressure changes in planes reduce blood oxygen levels, which, in turn, may result in a blood clot.

Maintaining proper blood circulation during extended journeys in cramped quarters requires supporting those valves while seated. Here are four easy tips to keep blood moving and your varicose veins from making you uncomfortable during the ride.

  1. Move Around. When traveling by car, stop frequently for a short walk to exercise the calf muscles. Your calf muscles help blood circulate, so working them provides an added push to the veins. In a plane or train, stroll down the aisle when possible or flex your ankles and feet while seated to pump blood.
  2. Get a Roomy Seat. Whenever you can, request a plane seat in the exit aisle that gives you extra room to stretch your legs. Similarly, don’t stuff your belongings in the area below the seat in front of you. Instead, stow your suitcases in the overhead bin and use the space for more leg room.
  3. Stay Hydrated. You’ve probably been told to sip water during plane rides, and there’s a good reason for that. Your blood thickens when dehydrated, which increases the risk of blood clots. As you travel, drink eight ounces of water every two hours and pass on dehydrating beverages like coffee or alcohol.
  4. Wear Compression Stockings. The tightly woven fabric of compressions stockings squeezes the veins and helps pump blood upward to the chest. Compression stockings provide the extra layer of support your leg veins need when seated for many hours. The garments are available in drugstores and medical supply outlets. Depending upon your risk factors, your doctor can order prescription compression stockings made with the highest level of compression.

Before You Travel…

Before you board the plane or train or settle into a car seat for your long journey, the specialists at the Center for Vein Restoration can discuss your risk factors and which methods will ease the discomfort of varicose veins during your trip. We’ll also tell you about permanent options to eliminate varicose veins and enable you to travel safely. Contact us today for an appointment.

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