With the holiday season fast approaching, many people will be planning trips to the mountains or the beach; or taking long flights to international destinations. Considering that travel usually involves extended periods of queuing and/or sitting, it is important that you ensure the optimal health of your veins, especially if you’re at risk of getting varicose veins.
Here are a few tips to maintain vein health while traveling:
Stretch your legs every few hours
If traveling long distances by road, whether driving or by bus, it is recommended that you stop every few hours to stretch your legs.
Pump your legs/ankles on the plane
Air travel poses a major risk for venous problems, from the confined space in a narrow seat to the restricted mobility to the slow blood circulation when flying at high altitudes. These situations cause pressure to build up in your veins, resulting in restlessness, heaviness and an achy feeling in the legs, and other symptoms associated with varicose veins.
For people with vein disease, air travel may increase the risk of venous thrombosis, where blood clots in your deep veins break off, travel to your lungs, and cause difficulty in breathing.
If possible, it is recommended that you stand up and walk on the cabin aisle regularly. If getting up is not an option, consider pumping the calf muscle while sitting. With your foot on the ground, raise the heel so your tippy toes support your leg on the ground, and then return to the original position. Do this multiple times to engage the calf muscle, which will in turn help to pump blood from the leg veins to the heart.
Keep well hydrated
Avoid the temptation of consuming snacks, sweets, alcohol, and other items that dehydrate your body. Instead, drink water or another nonalcoholic and decaffeinated beverage to stay hydrated and keep your lips moist, improve your mood, and avoid bad breath. Staying hydrated helps to prevent the veins from narrowing. It also reduces the risk of constipation, which is known to stress the venous system.
Get a support hose
Compression stockings are designed to physically squeeze your foot and calf muscles to facilitate steady blood flow in the venous system. Visit a vein specialist to get custom stockings that provide just the right amount of compression, and put them on before setting off.
If you notice swelling of the legs or chest pain or shortness of breath soon after traveling, you should visit the nearest hospital for evaluation.