Preventing Varicose Veins On Long Haul Travel

March 6, 2020 Dr Zil

If you’re at risk of developing varicose veins – whether it’s due to your family history or other factors – some good medical advice doctors can give you is to avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. But what if you have no choice in the matter? Perhaps you travel long distances for work, or maybe you enjoy spending your annual leave discovering foreign cities. Varicose veins can be a real, and scary, risk. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to prevent varicose veins from ruining your travel adventures.

Long Haul Travel

To begin with, what exactly is long haul travel? Typically, it involves flying, driving or using some other form of transportation for longer than six hours at a time. Sitting for long stretches like this can impair the blood circulation in your lower extremities, leading to vein valves failure and blood pooling in your legs – basically the cause of varicose veins. (Find out more: varicose vein causes)

Furthermore, untreated or undiagnosed varicose veins can precipitate a rare and potentially dangerous condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot deep in the vein. If the clot detaches and travels through the bloodstream, it can block the pulmonary artery and adversely affect your breathing.

The good news is that with some advanced preparation, you can take proactive measures to protect yourself from both varicose veins and DVT.

Varicose Vein Prevention While You’re up in the Air: Stay Hydrated

Medical professionals have been telling us for years that adequate water intake is vital to good health. This is particularly relevant when you’re travelling by air. That’s because poor blood circulation coupled with pressurised cabin air can be very bad news if you’re prone to vein disease or want to prevent it.

The solution is simple – drink plenty of water during your flight. Staying well-hydrated will help stabilise your blood pressure and flow. Also, avoid consuming beverages such as coffee or alcohol as these can be extremely dehydrating.

Move More and Stay Active During Your Long Haul Flight

If possible, take several connecting flights instead of one long one. Flying direct may be more convenient in the short-term but you’ll be worse off if you’re prone to varicose veins. Breaking up your travel into segments will force you to deplane, get some exercise and possibly avoid vein-related complications.

If you find yourself stuck on a flight that’s longer than six hours, however, make sure to move your feet. Wiggle your toes and lift your legs up and down frequently to keep your circulation moving.

Avoid sitting too long in one position or with your legs crossed. Get up every couple of hours and walk up and down the aisle for several minutes to stretch your legs and get some exercise. Another tip is to massage your calf muscles periodically to increase the blood circulation in your legs. (Find out more: 7 exercises to keep your legs healthy while travelling)

Sleeping pills or other sedatives are generally not recommended during long flights as these encourage prolonged hours of inactivity.

Wear Compression Garments During Long Flights to Improve Circulation

If you’re wondering how to prevent varicose veins in legs while travelling then compression stockings may offer you a solution. These special garments are designed to make you more comfortable during your flight by applying gentle pressure on your lower legs. This is done in a strategic way to promote circulation and prevent blood from pooling or refluxing.

Keep in mind that it’s very important to wear your compression garments correctly. Poorly fitted stockings could further increase your risk of developing complications such as DVT. (Find out more: non-medical options for managing varicose veins)

Seek Expert Advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

Walk-in walk-out treatment

  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call 1300 535 017.