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Varicose Veins, DVT and Flying

7th March 2018

What is the difference between DVT and varicose veins?

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition caused when blood in the deep leg veins stops moving and coagulates.  This condition can cause a number of complications if the clot remains in the leg, including inflammation (phlebitis) and leg ulcers.  The real danger however, is if the clot travels through the bloodstream into the lungs, where it can get stuck and cause a blockage.  This becomes a life-threatening condition called “pulmonary embolism”.

Varicose Veins are usually visible veins just under the surface of the skin and caused by engorged blood vessels which have become incompetent and distended due to back flow and pooling of blood.

Both conditions are venous conditions, however the two are very different and occur separately – DVT’s usually occur in the deep veins while varicose veins occur just under the surface.  Here at NQ Vascular, we specialise in the treatment of both conditions. 

What are the symptoms of DVT?

Persistent aching pain and cramping in the leg, swelling or tenderness or a redness and warmth around the affected are the most common symptoms of DVT, however some people experience no symptoms at all.  If you are unsure if you might have developed DVT please consult your GP as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis.  Depending on the severity of the condition your Doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatments;

  • Keeping the leg elevated
  • Compression stockings
  • Pain killers
  • Physical activity
  • Anti-inflammatory creams

The risk of DVT is increased during long haul flights due to lack of movement, dehydration and cabin pressure.  To help reduce the risk of developing DVT, Doctors recommend the following;

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to avoid restricting movement and/or circulation
  • Bend and straighten your legs, feet and toes for 3-4 minutes every half hour
  • If it is safe to do so, walk up and down the aisles for 3-4 minutes every hour
  • Massage your calf muscles regularly
  • Compression stockings

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