If you are used to flying and traveling on long-haul flights, you may have experienced discomfort or even pain in your legs. Tingling, calf pain, inflammation of the feet and ankles. This may seem trivial because we often think that the pressurization of the plane is the cause. Especially since the cases are not isolated and this phenomenon affects all travelers. However, this can have very serious health consequences. This is why wearing compression stockings is essential.
What are the risks of air travel on our blood circulation?
During a plane trip, especially if it is a long-haul flight, you are forced to remain in a seated position for a certain number of hours. After a while, it is very likely that you will feel a lack of comfort resulting in more or less severe leg pain.
These symptoms are not to be taken lightly. Indeed, it may be a phlebitis or venous thrombosis. This is manifested by compression of the veins, in the legs, which causes poor blood circulation and the formation of a blood clot.
The situation can become extremely serious, even fatal, if this blood clot breaks off and goes up to the lung and clogs an artery. This is called pulmonary embolism.
Several factors are likely to trigger phlebitis:
- Too prolonged a sitting position compressing the veins at the level of the seat.
- Prolonged immobility.
- Insufficiency of oxygen on board the plane.
- Dehydration caused by the dry cabin air.
The risks are increased when the trip has a duration longer than 4 hours. The longer the flight, the greater the risk.
Some people are more exposed to this type of accident, including pregnant women, people with a history of circulatory disorders, the elderly, overweight people, patients with cancer and heart failure…
You have to be vigilant because the symptoms can appear from 2 hours to 8 weeks after landing.
The benefit of wearing compression stockings
There is a very effective weapon against the appearance of venous disorders: socks or compression stockings. It is the accessory worn by each crew member on board. For good reason, it has the power to eliminate all the inconvenience and pain in the legs and protects against any risk of phlebitis.
The concept is simple. Made of elastic material, the compression stocking acts by exerting pressure from the feet to the thighs. The compression is said to be degressive because less and less strong as it rises.
This technique promotes venous return (the rise of blood from bottom to top).
Which compression stocking to choose?
It is strongly recommended to consult a doctor before leaving. The latter will prescribe the compression stockings adapted to your situation, depending on your state of health and your destination. Avoid choosing your own compression stockings at random because there are 4 types on the market:
- Class 1 which is similar to support stockings and useful for short and medium-haul flights
- Class 2 suitable for people with venous disorders
- Class 3 prescribed for people with a history of serious venous disease
- Class 4 for people with or having had more serious illnesses
It is advisable to drink a lot in order to hydrate and stretch your legs as much as possible.