DVT and long haul flights (24 hours plus). What's the risk?

My son (aged 17) is flying to Australia from the UK for a rugby tour. He’s fit and healthy and I’ve told him to walk around, wiggle his toes etc to keep his circulation going. In the following 3 weeks he’ll have several long flights around Australia too and then, of course, the flight home.
What do frequent long haul flyers do in this situation?
Is it advisable to take half an aspirin to prevent blood clotting before flights?
I just have this fear that he’ll get on the rugby pitch and drop dead from an undiagnosed DVT on the move.
Any thoughts?

3 comments

  • NOLA guy

    He should be fine. Best is to stay hydrated plus get up and stretch every few hours.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_class_syndrome

    Suggestions for a long flight:

    Join the frequent flier program for the airline, unless you already belong to a "partner" program. Joining is free and you can do it online.

    Check http://www.seatguru.com for seat suggestions. I usually try to get a window seat on really long flights and gather some extra pillows & blankets to make a "bed" to lean against. Call the airline and request a seat as early as allowed. Also ask if the aircraft has power ports that you can use for i-Pod, etc.

    Consider buying membership, a one-day pass or multi-day pass to the airline’s lounges (if offered). An example is Delta’s SkyClub: http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/airport_information/delta_sky_club/index.jsp Priority Pass also gives access to airline lounges all over the world: http://www.prioritypass.com/

    Airlines try to provide good on-board entertainment on long flights, and seat-back video is now almost standard on long flights. Airlines also try to provide decent meals on long flights. Check with the airline to find out what will be available on your flight. For example:

    http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/inflight_services/index.jsp

    Consider getting a sleep mask (ex. http://www.mindfold.com) and some earplugs, which may help you sleep (they work for me). Luggage stores and airport shops also sell sleep masks but they are not as good as the Mindfold type. Try to sleep – even if it isn’t very good sleep.

    I-Pods and portable game devices are great on planes, but the batteries won’t last more than a few hours. Pack one or more books that you have started, or that are from an author you know. It’s really annoying to realize – too late – the book you brought for the flight isn’t a good read. Other options are crossword puzzles and similar. A laptop is practical IF the aircraft is equipped with power ports (which can also re-charge an i-Pod or game device).

    Pack a complete change of clothes and basic toiletries in your carryon bag. Check the security requirements at: http://www.tsa.gov

    Dress in comfortable clothes and shoes that are not too tight (or overly casual). Your feet will swell during a long flight and tight clothes can make it harder to sleep.

    I try to shower just before leaving to go to the airport. It reduces the grungy feeling you get by the end of a long flight.

    Tag all of your bags (inside and outside) with your name, e-mail address (but not your home address) and a complete phone number someone will answer. The free tags from the check-in counter are fine.

    Make sure you have your passport or ID and other documents on you before leaving home.

    Get to the airport 2 full hours before departure unless the airline recommends arriving earlier.

    You can take something to help you sleep, but try it first. Many meds can leave you groggy long after you need to be awake. I just use aspirin.

    Chewing gum can help with relieving the pressure in your ears.

    Drink lots of water and juice: The air in the cabin is very dry and causes dehydration. Avoid too many drinks with caffeine (including colas) or alcohol as they can increase the dehydration.

    Try to awaken about an hour before the flight crew serves the arrival meal/snack and use the bathroom to wash up. Also maybe change clothes. You will feel a lot better.

    The time change can be a problem, and a long flight will produce a lot of "jet-lag". At your destination, try very hard to eat meals at local times and stay awake until local bedtime. If you MUST take a nap, then sleep for no more than 3 hours. Falling asleep at 3:00pm may result in you waking up at Midnight – wide awake and unable to go back to sleep.

    I hope you have a great trip!

  • DAVID

    dont worry about him hell be fine

  • Techwing

    Unless a person has a previously existing medical condition that predisposes him to DVT, there’s no particular reason to worry about DVT on a long-haul airplane flight.

    Sitting in an airplane seat for several hours is no different from sitting in an easy chair for the same amount of time, and the risk of DVT is no greater.

    A healthy 17-year-old is not going to develop DVT. Taking aspirin is not necessary.

    Overall, DVT is essentially unknown in people who are in good health.

    The best thing to do is to stop believing everything you read or hear on the news.

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