Is It Risky to Travel with Painful Varicose Veins?

Is It Risky to Travel with Painful Varicose Veins?

There’s nothing quite like getting back to traveling and finally catching up with family and loved ones. But if you are among the 30 to 50% of American adults with varicose veins, you may wonder if it’s safe for you to travel. After all, you’ve heard stories about people getting blood clots when traveling long distances in cars or airplanes. Wouldn’t your varicose veins place you at a higher risk?

Not necessarily, says our board-certified interventional cardiologist and expert on vascular care, Saleem Saiyad, MD, FACC, here at Premier Vein & Vascular. In this blog, Dr. Saiyad explains the ins and outs of varicose veins and the possible impacts to travel.

Varicose veins versus deep vein thrombosis

Let’s start by explaining the connection between varicose veins and blood clotting called deep vein thrombosis or DVT, sometimes brought on by prolonged inactivity.

Varicose veins are a common vein issue, which happens when the one-way valves in the veins become damaged or weak and don’t close properly. Instead of only allowing the unidirectional flow of blood, the damaged valve causes the blood to leak back towards the feet, which generates a bulging, bluish appearance and pressure or swelling of the veins. Aside from the unsightly appearance, patients with varicose veins may be symptom-free with no immediate health implications.

Deep vein thrombosis is a serious, potentially life-threatening medical condition caused when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside your body and partially or totally cuts off blood flow. Although the clot can happen in veins in the pelvis or your arms, it most commonly takes place in the legs. The real danger is if the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. Sadly, about 100,000 Americans die from blood clots every year.

Know your risk factors

Having varicose veins is one of the risk factors for getting deep vein thrombosis, as is prolonged inactivity which can happen during long-distance travel. However, remarkably up to 30% of people with DVT have no symptoms, which makes it especially important to know if you are at risk for developing blood clots. Other patients experience tenderness, warmth, and redness in the affected area.

In addition to prolonged inactivity and varicose veins in your legs, other risk factors include a family history of blood clots, smoking, and being overweight or obese or over 50. With DVT, the more risk factors you have and long periods of inactivity, the more prone you are to developing deep vein thrombosis.

Stay dehydrated and take precautions

The good news is that you can prepare for extended travel, whether you’ll be traveling by air, car, bus, or train, even if you have varicose veins or other risk factors. The first step is to contact your doctor to share your concerns. Depending on your particular situation, your doctor may recommend pre-travel blood clot screening, taking medication to prevent blood clots, or wearing compression socks.

There are many common sense tactics that you can do to minimize the risk of developing blood clots when traveling three or four hours at a time. Drink plenty of fluids when traveling. Staying hydrated is essential, but did you know dehydration narrows your veins?

Getting a little exercise is also crucial. When traveling by vehicle, take breaks along the way to walk around and stretch. Bus trips often stop along the way, so use that time for some exercise. Take an aisle seat on a plane, bus, or train to make it easier to get up and walk the aisle throughout your trip. When seated, try doing some heel-toe movements to stretch your legs in addition to contracting and releasing your leg muscles. Show some TLC to your legs and feet throughout your trip. You’ll not only feel great but also reduce your risks of developing blood clots.

If you have varicose veins and are concerned about long-distance travel and your risk for DVT, contact us at Premier Vein & Vascular for an evaluation. Our highly-skilled medical team conducts diagnostic tests like blood work and special ultrasounds to screen for DVT before it can develop into a life-threatening condition.

Use our online system today to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Tampa or Largo, Florida. We’ll help take the stress out of your upcoming travel plans by understanding your risk factors and what you can do to stay healthy during your journey.

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