Do You Know about Blood Clots and Travel?
-Redness of the skin
If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor as soon as possible.
Pulmonary Embolism (PE) (blood clot in the lungs)
You can have a PE without any symptoms of a DVT. Symptoms of a PE can include:
-Faster than normal or irregular heartbeat
-Chest pain or discomfort, which usually worsens with a deep breath or coughing
-Coughing up blood
-Lightheadedness, or fainting
If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical help right away.
Protect Yourself and Reduce Your Risk
-Know what to look for. Be alert to the signs and symptoms of blood clots.
-Move your legs often when on long trips and exercise your calf muscles to improve the flow of blood. If you've been sitting for a long time, get up and stretch your legs. Extend your legs straight out and flex your ankles (pulling your toes toward you). Some airlines suggest pulling each knee up toward the chest and holding it there with your hands on your lower leg for 15 seconds, and repeat up to 10 times. These types of activities help to improve the flow of blood in your legs.
-Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk for blood clots. If you have had a previous blood clot, or if a family member has a history of blood clots or an inherited clotting disorder, talk with your doctor to learn more about your individual risks.
-If you are at risk, talk with your doctor to learn more about how to prevent blood clots. For example, some people may benefit by wearing graduated compression stockings.
-If you are on blood thinners, also known as anticoagulants (medicines to prevent blood clots), be sure to take the medication according to your doctor's instructions.
Amaris's Personal Story
My name is Amaris White and I want to share my personal experience with blood clots. My hope is that by sharing this information, you will learn the signs and symptoms of this potentially fatal condition and know how to protect yourself and others.
In 2012 I was an active and healthy 25-year-old. I had run two half-marathons during the past year, and I was traveling for a month with friends to Southeast Asia to celebrate my successful completion of the bar exam.
We had been traveling for a few weeks when my lower back started to ache. I didn't think much of it and ignored it for a week, chalking it off to the uncomfortable hostel beds. On our last night in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my leg started to swell and within a few hours the pain and swelling were so severe that I could no longer walk. My left leg became discolored and for the next two days my roommate and I went to different hospitals in Malaysia in order to get a diagnosis—all the while my leg grew progressively darker, the pain increasingly crippling. I had a difficult time getting a diagnosis, but ultimately I was able to have my leg and foot examined through Doppler ultrasound. These test results confirmed that I had deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which a blood clot develops in a deep vein in the body. Continue reading Amaris's story...
*Gavish I, Brenner B. Air travel and the risk of thromboembolism. Intern Emerg Med 2011 Apr;6(2):113-6.