Nothing can be better than going on vacation and getting away from your normal hectic life. Unless you are planning a local vacation, chances are you will have to travel a great distance to enjoy some relaxation. If you will be traveling longer than two hours, then you should be aware of the hidden dangers of blood clots. Since passengers traveling by airplane are sometimes seated with their legs scrunched for long hours, the development of a clot has become known as economy class syndrome. However clots do not only occur in airline passengers and no matter what they are called, they are still a serious situation.
In order for blood in your feet to return to the heart, it must work against gravity. Located deep in the calf muscle lies a pump that greatly help with the upward flow of blood to the heart. This pump is often called the body's second heart, however it will only work when the legs are active. While the legs are moving it takes one heartbeat to return blood to the heart, when the legs are stationary, it can take up to five heart beats. Blood in the legs may become stagnant due to lack of movement, this is why you feel cramps. On occasions this stagnant blood may turn into a clot. Sitting for long periods greatly increases your risk of this danger.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (D.V.T) and Superficial thrombophlebitis are the medical terms giving to clots in the legs. Superficial clots are less dangerous and occur in the veins near the surface of the skin. A D.V.T occur in the deep veins, due to the fact that these veins carry blood back to the heart, these clots are life threaten if not treated.
How Will I Know?Credit: GoogleUsually clots will occur in one leg, the affected leg may become swollen, red, and painful. The pain may feel like a bad cramp that does not go away. If there is pain in your leg while you squeeze the back of your calf, it could be the sign of a clot. In some cases clots are hard to detect because the symptoms maybe subtle or nonexistent. Due to this D.V.Ts are often misdiagnosed causing people their lives or permanent injuries.
Why So Dangerous?
When clots are discovered in the deep veins, the major concern is that pieces may break off and move to the heart or lungs. When a piece of a clot moves to the lungs it is called a pulmonary embolism. The symptoms of this are : shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and chest pains. If left untreated, this can certainly kill.
If you think you may have a clot, your doctor will first do a physical examination. He or she will touch and squeeze your leg while questioning you about your pains. If a clot is suspected, an Ultrasound test will be ordered. During this procedure, a machine will send sound waves through your leg to show your doctor how the veins are functioning. Your doctor may not feel an Ultrasound is needed, however as mentioned before, D.V.Ts are often misdiagnosed. Blood test, and Cat Scans are other ways of finding troublesome clots. Demand that your doctor perform the necessary test to set your mind at ease or get a second opinion.
If a superficial clot is found, your doctor may simply tell you to keep active and prescribe pain killers. For deep vein clots, blood thinners are used. Thinners do not break up clots, instead they prevent their growth. Our bodies will naturally dissolve the clot if treated early. In addition, wearing compression stockings will help keep the blood flowing.
Others At Risk
You do not have to be on a long journey to get a clot. Women on birth control pills and people with a blood disorder are subjected to clots also. In other cases people developed clots by having their legs in odd positions for extended periods.
How to Prevent It
If you are taking a long trip, be sure to drink plenty of water and walk around as often as possible. Movement will keep your blood flowing and will give you some exercise. If you are unable to walk, simply pressing on your heel then on your toes can also help. Be sure to check your family's history and have a test done to search for any disorders in your blood. For women on birth control, make sure to consult your doctor and discuss the possibilities of clots.
Unfortunately D.V.T is a condition that is not known to many people. To bring further attention to the danger and prevention, March has become D.V.T awareness month. Spreading the word about Deep Venous Thrombosis will help save many lives.