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Flight Socks / Travel Socks - Don't leave home without them?

If you intend on travelling long distances be on the safe side and get yourself a pair of flight socks / travel socks. Why? Research has shown that long periods of sitting without moving during flight, in a car or train can increase the risk of deep venous thrombosis (DVT). If you experience swollen or painful legs you may have experienced DVT.

Some DVT facts
What is DVT?
  • It's a condition in which a blood clot forms in the vein

  • Mainly affects veins in the lower leg and thigh

  • Becomes dangerous when the clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream, lodging in an artery, brain, heart or lungs.

DVT Symptoms 


  • Tenderness, redness and/or swelling of the lower legs

  • An increase in body temperature

  • Change in skin colour around the area

  • Note: Often though there are no symptoms

Is DVT rare
  • DVT is rare, however according to a number of studies in the US and the Netherlands (German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care) there is no increase in risk of DVT if you travel between 4-6 hours.  However, if you travel between 6-8 hours you have the same risk as someone who has been bedridden for 3 days!
  • The risk of DVT increases the longer your journey e.g. 8 hours +

How to reduce DVT
  • According to US researchers and the LONGFLIT4 study wearing flight socks prior to and during your flight will decrease the risk of DVT

  • Drink plenty of fluids and exercise your leg muscles during flight


What do flight / travel socks do? 

Flight socks provide support and compression for your legs. It is the compression in these socks, which minimizes the swelling and consequently decreases the risk of developing DVT.

Your flight risk checklist
Journey length > 4 hours? 1 point
Are you older than 40? 1 point
Are you overweight? 1 point
Are you aged 60 or above? 2 points
Are you taking the pill? 1 point
Do you get frequent swelling of the legs when travelling? 1 point
Do you have a family history of thrombosis in the family? 1 point
Do you have pronounced varicose veins? 2 points
Are you pregnant? 2 points
Have you delivered a baby less than 2 months ago? 2 points
Do you have heart problems? 2 points
Do you have cancer? 2 points
Have you had a plaster cast or operation during the last two months? 2 points
Have you a history of thrombosis, embolism or clotting problems? 3 points

 Now tally your score to determine how at risk of DVT your are.

1-5 Points When travelling long distances you should wear a pair of flight / travel socks to protect against DVT
6+ Points Consult your Doctor about the best preventative measures prior to travel


Wrap up

So there you have it. The risk of DVT for a healthy person travelling under six hours is relatively low. However, if your flight is over six hours and you are at risk then wearing flight / travel socks during flight may be the best investment you've ever made. As always, if you are unsure please consult with your doctor. 

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