Vacation season is here in the United States! And with vacations come a handful of circumstances that go against managing healthy veins. Between travel to visit family, holiday stress, and seasonal foods you wouldn’t normally eat, your vascular system can get put through the wringer. If you have a diagnosis of varicose veins, spider veins, or another vascular disease, you will want to take extra care during your travels.
Here are some travel tips for veins from our board certified vascular surgeons to help you have the most comfortable vacation possible.
Wear Compression Stockings
Compression stockings are a simple but effective way to help your circulation during travel. When sitting or standing for long periods of time, circulation can be disrupted, causing blood to pool in the legs and feet. Compression socks work to support healthy blood flow. They apply graduated pressure to blood vessels, with the tightest area being at the feet or ankles. This helps bring blood back up to your heart and other parts of the body. If you are traveling for a long distance, these stockings can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Prescription grade compression stockings can be prescribed by your vein doctor, or lower strength ones can be purchased over the counter.
Tight Only In The Right Places
While tight clothing on the legs is beneficial to vein health, tight clothing around the waist has the opposite effect. Clothing that is tight around the waist can increase vein pressure and makes it harder for blood to move from the legs back to the heart. Tight clothing does not specifically cause spider veins and varicose veins, but a tight waist is recommended to be avoided.
Seated Calf Flexes
When sitting for hours on end in a car or airplane without movement, blood is restricted, causing it to pool in the vein. Not only can this cause vein issues over time, but it can also be painful in the short term. Getting up to walk around on a plane can be helpful, but there are techniques you can do while seated in a car or plane. The trick is to get your blood moving through your body. Engage your calf muscle by lifting your heel and squeezing. Do this repeatedly and as much as you can during your trip to pump blood through and out of your legs.
When sitting still for long periods of time, blood flow can become blocked and restricted. If the knee is bent, which will most likely be the case in a car or plane, or if the legs are crossed, this can further constrict blood flow. While on a plane, try and get up and walk the aisle, if conditions allow, to keep blood moving through the legs. If driving, plan stops every hour or so to get up and move. By taking breaks, you can help reduce pain and swelling caused by blocked veins.
Don’t Forget Water
During the holidays, you will most likely be presented with sugary and alcoholic drinks. While traveling, it is best to avoid them at least until you reach your destination. Drinking water and staying hydrated aid in healthy blood flow and is one of the best travel tips for veins. When you are properly hydrated, your blood will be thinner, which makes it easier for your body to circulate it. Poor circulation can contribute to blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) pain.
Get Elevated – The Last of Our Travel Tips for Veins
When taking breaks from holiday festivities, make sure to prop your legs up and keep them elevated. Elevating your legs can help improve varicose veins and swollen legs. By elevating your legs, you can give your veins a break and get more blood back towards your heart. The easiest way is to lie back on a bed or couch and place pillows under your legs to raise your feet.
Before leaving on any long trip, you should consult with your doctor if you feel your health is endangered by the state of your vascular health. Some signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), blood clots, and chronic venous insufficiency are swelling in legs, pain in the legs, varicose veins, leg ulcers, and changes in the skin. These conditions are life-threatening and require medical care. Your vascular doctor can recommend a treatment option that will make your trip more enjoyable and safe. Treatment for varicose veins is available that are minimally invasive and have few side effects, like laser treatment.
The board certified surgeons at the Franklin Vein Centre are here to make sure you are in excellent health so that you can fully enjoy your holiday season. Please contact us to make an appointment to assess your vein health and screen for any vein disease, like varicose veins. In the meantime, make use of these travel tips for veins!