Dangers Of Air Travel
Thrombosis is the medical condition in which blood clots form
in a blood vessel and prevent normal blood flow, a potentially life-threatening
situation and one of the leading causes of death in our society. Air travelers
may be particularly susceptible to this condition due to tight seating on long-distance
flights which limits leg room particularly for those riding in the "economy
class" area of the aircraft. This limited space can actually inhibit sufficient
blood flow in the legs of all passengers and flight personnel, and studies have
shown that even physically fit individuals are at risk.
There are several known factors that can increase the potential
for thrombosis to develop. Some individuals have an underlying predisposition
for the development of blood clots, a condition known as "thrombophilia." Elderly
and overweight individuals are also at higher risk. The physical conditions
of the plane itself may put any passenger at higher risk if the air is dry or
recirculation is inadequate, and if one is seated in the more cramped quarters
of economy class.
Air travelers should be aware of a number of methods to safeguard against "economy
class syndrome." Staying sufficiently hydrated is very important and can be
best achieved by drinking plenty of water and avoiding the consumption of alcoholic
beverages. Passengers should also strive to make themselves as comfortable as
space allows by storing baggage in overhead compartments instead of underfoot
and taking advantage of opportunities to move about the aircraft cabin. High-risk
passengers may also consider consulting with their physician prior to flying
and wearing special support hose that help increase circulation.