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What can you do to prevent blood clots while flying on an airplane?

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Most people don't need to worry much about clots on short flights. But if you're already at risk for clots and you plan to take a plane trip that's longer than 6 hours, you can do a few things to avoid them.

Get up every 2 to 3 hours and walk around. If there isn't enough room to walk or the fasten seatbelt sign is on, do calf raises and other leg stretches at your seat every 30 minutes or so.

Drink water before and during the flight. The air you breathe inside a plane is often dry because the same air circulates around the cabin. When you're dehydrated, your blood gets thicker. Avoid coffee and alcohol, which can dry you out even more.

Breathe deeply or listen to relaxing music to help you sleep. Avoid sleeping pills, which prevent you from getting up and moving as much as you should.

Before you leave, talk to your doctor, especially if you've had blood clots on flights in the past. They might suggest that you wear compression stockings, which put gentle pressure on your legs to keep the blood flowing. You can find them online and at drugstores, or your doctor can have them custom-fitted to you.

If you're at very high risk for blood clots, you may need to take low doses of medications called blood thinners before you leave.

SOURCES:

American Society of Hematology: "Blood Clots."

CDC: "Blood Clots and Travel: What You Need to Know," "Blood Clots During Travel."

Cleveland Clinic: "Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)."

Columbia Surgery: "How to Avoid Blood Clots When Flying: Advice from a Vascular Surgeon."

Hospital for Special Surgery: "Avoiding Blood Clotting Complications When Flying Long Distances Before Surgery."

Lifebridge Health: "Blood Clots: Deep Vein Thrombosis."

Mayo Clinic: "Blood clots: Basics," "Blood clots: Symptoms."

NHS: "Prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis) when you travel."

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith on August 3, 2020

SOURCES:

American Society of Hematology: "Blood Clots."

CDC: "Blood Clots and Travel: What You Need to Know," "Blood Clots During Travel."

Cleveland Clinic: "Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)."

Columbia Surgery: "How to Avoid Blood Clots When Flying: Advice from a Vascular Surgeon."

Hospital for Special Surgery: "Avoiding Blood Clotting Complications When Flying Long Distances Before Surgery."

Lifebridge Health: "Blood Clots: Deep Vein Thrombosis."

Mayo Clinic: "Blood clots: Basics," "Blood clots: Symptoms."

NHS: "Prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis) when you travel."

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith on August 3, 2020

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Is obesity linked to a higher risk of getting a blood clot while flying on an airplane?

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