Staying Safe During Holiday Travel

holiday travel 1If you’re one of the millions of people planning to travel over the holidays, we’d like you to do it safely. Whether your plans involve car, plane or train take a minute or two to study these simple steps to stay healthy while traveling.

One health risk to consider when traveling is simply sitting for too long,” says Clayton Cowl, M.D., an expert in travel medicine at Mayo Clinic. “Concerns like blood clots in the legs from sitting too long, becoming dehydrated from lack of fluid intake or drinking too much alcohol, and not walking much when delayed in an airport or train station can be serious. Driving for hours to reach a destination after a long day at work can be as equally worrisome due to fatigue and eyestrain.”

Blood clots can be a concern when a person sits for too long because leg muscles aren’t contracting and blood can pool and stagnate in the vessels. This can lead to deep vein thrombosis and even pulmonary embolism – a potentially fatal condition, caused by clots becoming lodged in the lungs.  When travelling by car, both driver and passengers should stop every few hours to hydrate and walk. Plan ahead, and pick some good rest stops along your route. How about a park, a mall, or a place of interest?

As an added benefit, allowing children to run or play in a safe environment while traveling will often help curb their excessive energy in a confined space and may help them relax while traveling for longer periods.

full planeWhen traveling by plane, check the in-flight magazine for tips on how to exercise in your seat and on trips longer than three hours, get up at least once to take a walk to the bathroom or other end of the plane.

And regardless of how you travel, try to avoid crossing your legs while sitting for long periods, because this can inhibit adequate blood circulation.

If you’re the one doing the driving, plan to get a good night’s sleep the day before the trip, to avoid drowsiness during the journey. If possible, take turns at the wheel with other passengers. Take breaks at rest stops and chose healthy low carb meal options, to avoid crashing after a sugar high. Combining meals or rest room stops with a short walk to get fresh air and stretch can make a big difference in staying more alert and refreshed.

planesWhile we all want to just get to our destination for the holidays, budgeting a little extra time to account for unexpected weather delays and adequate driving breaks is a really smart plan.

To avoid stiffness from sitting too long, if you’re a passenger try doing some simple stretches, such as extending legs out and back several times and massaging thighs and calves.

To avoid eyestrain and its associated annoying symptoms including sore or irritated eyes, dry or watery eyes, double vision or blurriness, increased sensitivity to light or unremitting shoulder and neck fatigue never drive if you are sleep deprived.

A short nap can significantly relieve these symptoms and non-medicated eye drops can help if eye irritation persists

Whatever your travel method, avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of water and minimize or eliminate alcohol consumption as alcohol dehydrates at a cellular level.

holiday trafficAbove all, plan for the worst, and enjoy the best: When severe winter weather hits, many vehicles may become stranded and help may be hours or sometimes days away. Pack a simple emergency kit, including blankets, snacks, water, charging devices, flashlights and activities to keep kids amused.

Thank You for your attention. Now, please fasten your seat belts, place doors to manual and turn off all cellular devices. You’re ready for the holidays!

Bon Voyage.

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Don’t be a Clot when it comes to DVT!

Two weeks ago my orthopedic surgeon made me look him in the he as he repeated his warning “people die from DVT.”

This was his sobering way of saying “no” to my plans to immediately resume business travel after knee surgery. I’m ashamed to say, I ignored his advice, but pleased to report that I survived unscathed.

However, I’m now realizing how close I came to dodging a bullet!  Just last week we learned that super-fit tennis superstar, Serena Williams, was rushed to hospital suffering from a pulmonary embolus and then a day or so later the Vascular Disease Foundation released figures that suggest someone dies from a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) every 5 minutes!

According to the report, between 100,000-180,000 Americans die each year as the result of pulmonary embolism (PE.) The Vascular Disease Foundation is urging Americans, especially women, to learn about the risks of venous blood clots to help prevent these deaths. While men and women are at equal risk, the risk for deep vein thrombosis varies depending on where a woman is in her life-cycle, her hormone levels, and if she has a family history of clotting disorders.

Every year, more people die from preventable blood clots than from breast cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents combined,” said Dr. Samuel Goldhaber, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chairman of the Venous Disease Coalition. “It is so important to raise awareness about DVT and PE because although blood clots are common, few Americans have sufficient knowledge about blood clots and how to prevent them.”

SRxA’s Word on Health is therefore pleased to bring our readers the knowledge that might just save their live.

DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins, usually of the pelvis or leg. DVT can be dangerous in two ways. First, DVT can be fatal if a blood clot breaks free from the leg veins and travels through the heart and lodges in the lungs causing a PE. Second, because blood clots can permanently damage the veins, as many as half of DVT survivors can experience long-term leg pain, heaviness and swelling that can progress to difficulty in walking, changes in skin color and leg ulcers. This condition, called post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) or “chronic venous insufficiency,” can significantly impair quality of life.

Certain individuals may be at greater risk for developing DVT, but it can occur in almost anyone.

Risk factors that are more likely to affect women include pregnancy and the six to eight weeks after giving birth, the use of birth control pills or postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy, cancer and its treatment, and major surgery.

Anyone may be at risk for DVT but the more risk factors you have, the greater your chances are of developing it. Knowing your risk factors gives you the chance to do something about it:

• Hospitalization for a medical illness or any illness
• Recent major surgery (especially orthopedic surgery) or injury or trauma
• Personal history of a clotting disorder or previous DVT
• Increasing age
• Cancer and their treatments
• Family history of DVT
• Extended bed rest
• Obesity
• Smoking
• Prolonged sitting when traveling (longer than 6 to 8 hours)

For more information about DVT, its risk factors, signs and symptoms or to take a free risk assessment quiz, click here.

Chastised and humbled, I for one, will be doing just that!