Many of us may have heard of the dangers of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), or even know someone who is suffering from the condition. More often than not, the condition is associated with frequent flyers. If so, what’s the root cause of such a condition? Could it be the side-effect of high altitude, or is it simply due to the prolonged sitting that causes this peculiar syndrome amongst frequent fliers?
Well, it’s not the actual flying that’s causing this condition. It’s the prolonged sitting in a stationary position, within a confined space with restricted movement that allows these clots to form, hence, the increasing concern. The condition is not intrinsically linked to flying frequently - you can just easily develop deep-vein thrombosis if you spend extended hours in a bus, train, car or even at your desk. The rule of thumb is, if you find yourself sitting all day, every day, then you are at risk. This is just another example of a sitting disease, and the terrible toll it is taking on modern society.
What is deep-vein thrombosis (DVT)?
The condition develops when blood clots (or thrombus) form in a vein deep within the legs because of the lack of movement and muscle contraction. This, in turn, causes blood to pool in the lower limbs. DVT can develop in all parts of the body due to a lack of movement and sluggish blood flow, but the most common area are the legs. While the clots cause leg pain, the more serious issue is if they dislodge and move with the circulation to the lungs, which can then result in a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Furthermore, parts of the thrombus that remain in the deep-vein will cause further inflammation and discomfort.
Sitting for prolonged periods have become a ‘normal’ way of life. Globally, it has been estimated that we spend an average of 7.7 hours a day sitting. In Singapore, however, the figures are considerably higher, and it is common for people to report that they spend upwards of 14 hours a day sitting. This is all very bad news for those of us who are sitting all day, and if this wasn’t bad enough, it’s about to get worse.
Symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT)
DVT symptoms appear in more or less half the people who have had them. Listed below are the symptoms you should take note of:
- Red or discoloured skin on the leg
- Swollen leg
- Your leg may feel pain or tender when standing or walking
- You may notice increased warmth in the area of swelling or pain
As mentioned earlier, the blood clots can escalate into a complication called pulmonary embolism. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include chest pain when taking a deep breath, rapid pulse, fainting, shortness of breath and coughing up of blood.
If you suffer from the aforementioned symptoms, it is best to seek medical attention immediately. DVT can cause very serious complications if not treated, and in worst instances, it may even lead to death.
If you have had a deep-vein clot before, the chances of future clots recurring are much higher. You may take these following preventive steps:
- Avoid prolonged sitting
- Walk along the aisle of the train, bus or aeroplane when travelling long distances
- While seated, stretch your legs a couple of time each hour to promote a better blood circulation to the legs
- Compression stockings and loose apparel are recommended
- DVT can also occur when your blood is thick due to dehydration, so hydrate yourself well
- Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol, which have a diuretic effect
- Try to stay active with light activities after an illness or surgery as soon as your doctor permits it
- Taking the medicines prescribed by your doctor to prevent or treat blood clots, especially after a surgery
- Keep up-to-date with doctor appointments for any medicine changes and blood tests
So, if you are one of the millions who sit all day to do your work, then please take note. The problems associated with sitting will affect anyone and everyone as these condition do not discriminate your age or gender. Hospitals are full of poor souls, just like you, who quite simply were never told. They never knew and they never had a chance. So now, you know!
To find out more about best seating practices or to correct your posture, please feel free to visit us at any of our Total Health Chiropractic clinic for a consultation.