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How to sleep in an airplane without getting Deep Vein Thrombosis??

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Aug 2nd, 2013, 02:18 PM
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How to sleep in an airplane without getting Deep Vein Thrombosis??

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) forms when you sit for hours without exercising your legs. I'm flying 15 hours economy class and I want to get some shut eye along the way. But is it safe to sleep? Or should I always be awake so that I can rotate my feet or so that I can get up and walk?

I have to admit I'm a bit paranoid about DVT....

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taylor64 is offline  
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 04:38 PM
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I would highly recommend NOT taking a sleep aid as you will fall asleep and your legs,etc. will be in the same position for quite awhile.Things like Ambien and other sleep aids cause one to get into a deep sleep but also being comatose for such long periods that it is not good for your limbs.
As an international flight attendant, I would recommend taking a couple aspirin before getting on the plane (ask your physician first) along with wearing compression hose AND make yourself get up and walk around every hour or so. Be sure and drink alot of water on the flight which will cause you to get up to use the lav more !
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 04:54 PM
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Can you actually sleep on a plane? I can't.

Plus even if you can nap a little bit there are always noises that will wake you up. I can't imagine being able to sack out for 15 hours straight sitting up in an airplane seat.

I guess the point I'm making is I walk around the plane every hour or so. But I'm wake anyways.
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 08:07 PM
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If you have some condition that makes you extra vulnerable to developing a DVT by all means talk with your health care provider before your trip. If you are just (?overly-) concerned based on things you have heard or read, inform yourself and do what you can to reduce the risk.

DVT risk is due to impaired venous return, meaning a decrease in the free flow of blood through your veins back to your heart, which increases risk of the sluggish blood forming a thrombus (clot.) Inactivity contributes to this because when you are inactive you do not get the benefit of the "milking" action of leg muscles that occurs as you walk. In addition, venous return is decreased by having one's legs in a dependent (hanging down) position and by any mechanical "pinching off" of blood vessels as can occur when sitting with knees and waist bent. Risk is increased further by dehydration. Ways to reduce risk are based on (a) promoting venous return, (b) avoiding dehydration and (c) reducing clotting potential.
For (a) - wear well-fitting compression hose available over the counter; knee length is adequate though some like thigh length. I have purchased them in a local pharmacy as well as through www.discountsurgical.com. Be certain that you apply them properly and that they do not bunch up, which actually makes things worse by impeding blood flow. Wear loose clothing that does not constrict. When you are awake do get up and move around a bit every hour or two. While seated, recline and stretch out your legs to decrease the vein pinching, and wiggle your feet, rotate/flex your ankles periodically when awake.
For (b) - drink plenty of water before and during your flight, and avoid alcohol if possible. A glass of wine is not going to be the end of the world, and may help you relax, but avoid overdoing it inflight.
For (c) unless there is some reason not to (check with your health care provider if not sure) take an aspirin or two before boarding the flight. Aspirin decreases the stickiness of your platelets, reducing the chance of clot formation.
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Aug 8th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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Good advice from Seamus except aspirin has not been shown to decrease incidence of DVT except for recurrent PE/DVT already treated 6-18 months with warfarin.

The best thing to do is stay hydrated and get up and walk around.
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Aug 8th, 2013, 04:20 PM
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Yes, it is totally fine to sleep. The couple hours of sleep that you may get (if you are lucky) will not endanger you. Unless you are really skilled at sacking out anywhere, you won't be sleeping for a really long time anyway. Try to sleep and if you are able to, count yourself lucky and then get up and walk around whenever you wake up. And as others have said - stay hydrated and don't drink much alcohol.
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Aug 9th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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<<>>

Unless you take a sleep aid of some kind you won't sack out and just not move the entire time. Even when you do sleep, you'll wiggle around a bit and you'll probably sleep in small chunks and then wake up a bit and fall back asleep. It's not so much that you have to keep moving constantly, just that you don't want to take a heavy duty sleeping pill and not move for 15 hours.

Many long overnight flights have a meal right away and then a sleeping period and then another meal before landing. Eat your dinner when you get it and then go for a short stroll to the lavatory or just a lap around the cabin. Then cuddle in as best as you can and sleep. If you wake up enough to think about it, move your knees the little you can and wiggle your feet around a bit, maybe change position a little and try to go back to sleep. When the lights come up and it looks like the FA's are going to be offering food again soon then go for a quick stroll but do try to be back in your seat and clear of the aisle before the FA's are trying to get a cart through.


Do you have a 'normal' level of health or do you have a specific reason to be concerned? If you have a specific reason, or if you're really just that concerned, talk to your doctor ahead of time.
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Aug 11th, 2013, 04:11 AM
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I've had a small DVT before and my legs and feet swell impressively after sitting for several hours.

Medical grade compression stockings help a lot, but walking around and doing "toe lifts" helps more.

I take two doses of Lovenox on long flights. After the second dose is when I notice the effects. We've never discussed putting me on Xarelto but that's not used for DVT treatment much in the US yet. Maybe in a few years.
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