Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can drinking plenty of fluids reduce the risk of blood clots on an international flight?"
My flight is going to be 13 hours and I can only afford coach, thus there isn?t a lot of room to stretch my legs.
Drinking plenty of fluid, or more accurately, avoiding dehydration, is one measure that can help reduce the risk of developing a lower extremity blood clot during a long flight. However, it is definitely not the only or even the most important measure you can take. The first step to preventing clots is understanding your risk to develop one, and this can only be determined by doctor who will perform a complete history and physical. This is very important, because some patients in special high risk groups may actually by recommended to take medication to help prevent clot formation. In general the best defense against a clot is to exercise your calf and foot muscles regularly by flexing your calf muscles every half hour or so (this can be done while seated) and getting up to take a walk down the aircraft aisle every one to two hours (at times when the pilot declares it safe to move about the cabin). You should also avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sleep aids. Alcohol and caffeine can cause dehydration, and sleep aids tend to make you drowsy, or even lead to oversleeping, increasing the time you will spend immobile. Another strategy that is generally safe and effective at reducing risk of clots is to wear knee high or thigh high graduated compression stockings, however it is important to check with your primary care physician to see if compressing stockings are safe for you.
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