How to survive that long flight
Here are some tips on how to feel good and comfortable in a long flight:
DRINK PLENTY: Economy flights rarely provide enough water for passengers, so take a two-litre bottle with you. As you dehydrate, your blood thickens, making a clot more likely. The recycled, air-conditioned atmosphere on a plane is as dry as a desert, so drink plenty of fruit juice and water before and during your flight, especially if you are returning from a hot country and are already dehydrated. Avoid tea, coffee, colas and other caffeinated drinks, which are all diuretics.
TAKE AN ASPIRIN: A 75mg aspirin on the morning of your flight, with one per day for the following two or three days, can lower your risk of a Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by one-third, says Farroll Kahn, because it thins the blood. However, if you have not taken aspirin before or have stomach problems, such as ulcers, you should consult your doctor beforehand.
EXERCISE: The Cardiac Patients’ Association recommends an exercise for flyers which should be done every quarter of an hour for a couple of minutes, even on short flights. With your heels on the floor, bring your toes sharply up towards your knees and hold for three seconds. Then reverse by pointing your toes downwards and hold in this position again. You should feel the muscles in your legs contracting and pumping the blood back towards your heart.
GET MOVING: Every half an hour, even on short flights, get out of your seat and walk the length of the aisle once or twice. ‘This is the most important thing you can do to prevent a DVT. Even if you fear being a nuisance, you must get out of your seat and exercise. ‘It will get your heart pumping and the pressure on your leg muscles will send the stale blood back to your heart, enlivening the whole circulatory system.
SIT SENSIBLY: Do not cross your legs as this restricts blood flow. Avoid piling luggage under your feet as it limits leg room.
SLEEPING: When sleeping, try to make sure all your limbs are unrestricted and not under pressure. If you are shorter than 5ft 2in, rest your legs on a piece of luggage rather than leaving them dangling, with extra pressure on the underside of the knees.
AVOID ALCOHOL: Alcohol is also a diuretic and you should avoid it if you fall into the ‘at risk’ category .All travellers should limit their intake to one or two alcoholic drinks during a flight, to avoid dehydration. Don’t drink alcohol to excess in the day or two before the flight.
DRESS CAREFULLY: Tight clothes can restrict blood flow to the legs and cause problems. Wear loose clothes in natural fibres which can expand and breathe. Socks or pop socks with a tight elastic should be avoided, and during the flight loosen belts and shoe laces. This will all help the blood to circulate freely through your lower limbs. Support tights can encourage blood circulation if you have varicose veins or are particularly prone to swollen ankles when flying.
WARNING SIGNS: If you have pain, aches, or redness in your lower legs during or after a flight, get medical help. If a blood clot has formed, it can have fatal results if it dislodges and enters the circulatory system. If a clot reaches the brain, it can cause a stroke. If it reaches the heart, it will cause a heart attack and in the lungs can lead to a pulmonary embolism, where blood supply is blocked.
CHOOSE YOUR FLIGHT WITH CARE: Until the mid-Eighties all economy-class seats had a pitch (the distance between the back of one seat and the back of the next) of 34inches. Since then, the pitches have been steadily getting smaller, with UK airlines particular culprits.