Economy Class Syndrome
Travel associated conditions
More and more people are flying long distances and having to remain seated for long periods of time.
When movement is constrained, the blood circulation in the legs is restricted. This situation can lead to several common symptoms such as heavy legs, leg pain, swollen feet and ankles. These symptoms are associated with the term of the Economy Class Syndrome. Prolonged sitting is also a major risk factor for development of phlebitis and thrombosis (blood clot formation). In some cases, blood clots can migrate to the lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolism.
The discomfort and risk of DVT applies to other types of long distance travel such as car, train or bus. When remaining seated without moving for over 5 hours, the risk of DVT could be four times higher. A DVT can happen to anyone during travel, regardless of age, weight, or lifestyle.
A simple and comfortable way to help relieve the symptoms of heavy legs, leg pain, swollen feet and ankles during travel is to wear graduated compression stockings. Wearing compression stockings is also advised to reduce the risk of developing a more serious condition such as phlebitis or deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
Medical compression stockings have been proven to prevent symptoms including heavy, tired and achy legs, swelling of feet and ankles. Ask your family physician for information regarding the prevention of DVT and other venous problems during travel.
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Move your feet and ankles every 15 minutes
- Take a short walk every two hours
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Avoid alcohol
- Wear compression stockings as they are the only efficient mean to prevent symptoms and swelling