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Warning: RVers are very prone to dangerous DVT, deep vein thrombosis

Did you know that you can prevent DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, (blood clot in a vein) even on long travel days? I hadn’t given DVTs (deep vein thromboses) much thought until our recent trip back to Missouri from southern Florida. Our 1,200-mile-long trip took much longer than we’d expected. We experienced road work delays and heavy rainstorms that frequently forced us off the road for a while. We had to take a detour at one point and then sat in traffic for several hours because of an accident on the road up ahead. All of this may have been a perfect setup for DVTs, but we knew what to do to prevent them. As an RVer, you should know how to prevent DVTs, too!

Just what is a DVT?

Deep vein thrombosis is a very dangerous condition. DVTs are blood clots that form deep within a vein. Many times DVTs form in the leg, but these clots can also present in an arm or within the stomach. The problem with a DVT is that the clot or a part of the clot can break free from the vein. It can travel through your bloodstream into the lungs, where it forms a pulmonary embolism—a life-threatening situation.

Symptoms

How do you know if you may have a DVT? Here are three warning signs:

  • Pain and swelling at the site (sometimes accompanied with redness)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest

Who is at risk?

Many RVers are at risk of developing DVTs. That’s because on travel days we may spend long hours sitting in our trucks, diesel pushers, or other vehicles as we move to our next campsite. Here are some additional reasons you may be at risk:

  • You are overweight
  • You are more than 60 years old
  • You’ve previously had a DVT
  • You have varicose veins
  • You have cancer or heart failure
  • You’re a smoker
  • You take a contraceptive pill or HRT
  • You have a family history of DVTs or PE (pulmonary embolism)

In addition, if you sit in one position for an extended period of time or become dehydrated, your risk may increase. Even if you do not have any of the aforementioned risk factors, a DVT may still develop. With that said, you can understand why it’s important to know how to prevent DVTs.

How to prevent DVTs on travel days

  • Plan your RV travel days to include several stops.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing. (Exception: Compression hosiery is designed to enhance blood flow.)
  • Get out of the vehicle often and walk around. Stretch arms and legs, too.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol.
  • Do not cross your legs (restricting blood flow) while traveling in your RV.
  • While sitting/traveling, flex your feet (point toes up, relax, repeat) and rotate your ankles often (clockwise then counter-clockwise). If space permits, raise your knee to your chest. Hold and release. Repeat for the other leg.
  • Frequently “pump” your legs up and down to increase blood flow. (Even simply raising your heels off the floor as high as you can and then releasing them will help.)

My husband and I like to stop every hour or so, and plan our travel routes accordingly. This allows us to walk around, stretch, and rehydrate often. Once you know about the potential health risks and ways to prevent DVTs, you can adjust your travel routines accordingly.

Stay safe (and healthy) out there, everyone!

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Gregg G.
2 months ago

When I used to do long distance motorcycle trips (500+mile days, 6 days on 1 off for several weeks) I learned to stop every hour at a gas station; first stop drink water, pee, walk 5 minutes, next stop same plus get fuel, then repeat the cycle. Makes a huge difference in comfort and being alert too!

Robert Konigsberg
2 months ago

Good topic. The same rules apply for long air flights.

Laura Martin
2 months ago

Thanks so much for the reminder!

Brian Burry
2 months ago

Compression socks, knee high, help prevent DVT’s, in concert with hydration and stopping every hour to hour and a half. Heck, if you have a dog, they will also appreciate getting out to stretch their legs and have their potty break!

Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Burry

Compression socks for sure for the driver. Stop every 100 miles or so get out and walk around for at least 15 min. I’m still wearing a compression wrap in my right leg (1 more week by the vein dr.) Just got back from a 2400 mile trip. Take care of yourself by being active (other than driving).

Val Catena
2 months ago

I’m currently on a 6 week regimen of blood thinners for a clot in my leg. Thank goodness it wasn’t a dvt! And this one had very little to do with traveling. Overdoing hiking with friends when my body wasn’t used to it did me in. After 10 miles over 3 days, including the Bisbee Stair 1000, my whole body was so tired I could barely get out of a chair once down! That lasted almost 2 full days afterwards. I’ve always made sure when driving that we stopped often and always included a short walk. This time, the possible repercussions of being so tired, were right there somewhere in those tired brain cells! So another possible symptom to be aware of is extreme pain in one specific area without a bruise! Enjoy your time traveling and visiting friends but be aware of what your body is capable! Safe travels!

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago

I start looking to refuel at the “half-tank” mark. This gets us out of the truck more often, and nowadays keeps the hit on the pocketbook at around (GASP!) the hundred dollar mark.

James
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Now you’re down to the “3/4 tank mark” for $100

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago
Reply to  James

True story, James. Sadly so. It depends on how diligent we are in looking up fuel stops ahead on Gas Buddy.

Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

👍

Rick K
2 months ago

Another way to prevent this is to get a tow vehicle with a small gas tank. Ours is only 15 gallons, so we’re stopping often!

Ray
2 months ago

Gail- Thank you for the timely article on clotting. There is one factor not listed. It is a controversial one, at least in the political sense, but all signs indicate it is none-the-less a factor. I speak of the body’s reaction to spiked proteins in the blood. Many prominent Doctors have braved censorship to speak out. I am hoping this comment is not pulled. I also wish to offer that there is a commonly used blood test called D-Dimer that will give people an “recent look back” at their body’s internal blood clotting activity and thus provide an indication of their susceptibility to blood clots. I found our insurance covered it. Check it out.

tom
2 months ago

Where’s the next rest stop? Mother Nature’s plan on our drives.

mimi
2 months ago

A very timely article, with most folks preparing now for the summer season. Thank you for this heads-up!

DEAN W BROWN
2 months ago

Best way to avoid DVT is to get a dog!

Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  DEAN W BROWN

Yes – we travel with 3 dogs & stop every 2 to 4 hrs to walk around. Gives us a break from driving.

ddobs
2 months ago
Reply to  DEAN W BROWN

yep AND take Mg…life-enthusiast.com/articles/magnesium-and-blood-clots/
Magnesium and Blood Clots. Oral Magnesium Inhibits Acute Platelet-Dependent Thrombosis (PDT) Magnesium is an important intracellular cation and cofactor for many human enzymes…useful in reducing mortality in patients with acute myocardial infarction (acute heart attack). 

drsircus.com/general/safer-surgery-with-magnesium/
Magnesium prevents blood clots and thins the blood without side effects. Dr. Mayhill continues saying, “Magnesium has both a thrombolytic (able to dissolve thrombosis) effect, but also protects against adverse effects

sciencebasedmedicine.org/magnesium-the-cure-to-all-disease/
Read you’ll conclude that magnesium is quite possibly the prevention and the cure to all disease. .. It’s involved in hundreds (800!) of biochemical reactions and enzyme systems,nerve function, muscle control,blood pressure,blood sugar..drugs can affect magnesium levels.. 

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