5 Ways You Can Avoid Blood Clots in Your Legs
Blood clots are not something to take lightly. Though they aren’t always life-threatening, they can be and you do not want to be putting yourself at risk.
These blood clots exist deep in your veins, particularly in the legs, and are often referred to as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT for short.
“A blood clot in my leg — how bad can that be?” you may be thinking. Well, it can be pretty bad. They can break off and get stuck in your lungs, which means you’re dealing with a potentially fatal situation known as pulmonary embolism.
There are many different things you may be doing in your life that could be putting you at risk of developing these blood clots and possibly further issues, but some simple changes can help.
Here’s how to avoid blood clots in your legs
1. Even while you’re relaxing, make time to move
Few things can relax you as much as parking our bodies on the couch and binge-watching our favorite show.
While we would never tell you to not do this, we are here to tell you that while you’re binging, you should be sure to get up and move around a little between episodes. While you’re waiting for the next episode to load, walk around for a few minutes to get your blood flowing again.
Sitting for extended periods of time without movement is one of the major risk factors for deep vein thrombosis, but thankfully, you can lower that risk with a quick and simple fix.
This is a great opportunity for you to elevate your legs, as well, which is great for keeping your circulation going, especially if you already have issues with your veins.
2. Stay hydrated while traveling
Whether you’re flying or driving, it is easy to get dehydrated.
When you’re driving, chances are good you don’t want to be chugging water or else you’ll find yourself often hitting every rest area along the way. And, when it comes to plane travel, no one likes an airplane bathroom, so some avoid it at all costs by limiting their water intake. However, when you are traveling, you should be upping your water intake.
Not only is flying dehydrating, but it also forces you to sit for long periods of time.
If you’re sitting for more than 2 hours in either a car or on a plane, then you are increasing your risk of blood clots. If traveling by car, try to stop every hour to hour and a half, get out and walk around. If you’re confined by the walls of an airplane, get up and walk around the aisles as often as you can to keep things moving.
Also, note that many airlines have seatback cards with suggested exercises that can be done while seated to help prevent blood clots. This includes calf pumps and writing the letters of the alphabet using your feet.
When traveling, you will also want to try and stay away from drinks that will dehydrate you even further, such as caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks like soda.
A good thing to take with you when traveling to help avoid blood clots in your legs is compression stockings. It’s preferable to have them prescribed to you by a vein specialist but if you find yourself in a pinch, you can get them over the counter.
3. When pregnant, keep moving
It’s tough to remain on the go when pregnant because exhaustion sets in more quickly than usual. However, pregnancy and changes in hormones are one of the leading risks of blood clots so this is a good time to be sure you are not living a sedentary life. Pregnancy increases the pressure in the veins of your pelvis and legs. When your legs remain still for long periods, such as during bed rest, your calf muscles don’t contract to help blood circulate, which can increase the risk of blood clots.
When you can, try to go on regular walks and make sure you aren’t limiting yourself to the couch or your bed for too long without moving.
If possible, try sleeping on your left side to help promote circulation and blood flow where it might be more difficult during pregnancy.
4. Raise your feet when sleeping
Think about the amount of time you spend sedentary when sleeping. If you’re getting the proper amount of sleep, that equates to about 7-8 hours of little to no movement in your legs. And that does not bode well for your blood circulation.
To help promote circulation while you’re sleeping, try elevating your legs. You can do this by putting a pillow under your feet or by raising the foot of your bed. It doesn’t have to be a major lift — just a few inches will greatly help your circulation and reduce your risk of blood clots.
Pro tip: Just be sure that your legs are higher than your hips in order to get the full effect.
5. Know the Signs of a Possible Blood Clot
If you are noticing anything unusual, be sure to schedule an appointment with a vein specialist. Blood clots are the types of things that you do not want to leave untreated — they have the potential to be life-threatening.
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