Move Your Feet During Your Flight to Avoid Edema

With summer around the corner, you may be planning to fly out for beach vacations and trips overseas. Most likely, you’ll be dreaming about your travel itinerary and what you plan to pack in your suitcase. As you consider what items you would bring to keep you comfortable during your flight to your vacation destinations, we’d like to offer some tips about how to care for your feet and ankles during the flight.

Why do feet and ankles get swollen during a flight?

Legs, ankles, and feet swelling, or edema, can be typical during a long flight. The biggest contributor is inactivity during your flight. Muscles that usually help to move the fluid in your legs and feet do not move regularly, so the fluid can pool there, causing swelling. The cabin’s low air pressure can cause a decrease in blood circulation, which keeps the fluids in your feet and can even cause a blood clot to form. Additionally, you may be offered salty snacks and not drink enough water during a flight, which can lead to dehydration. This can contribute to edema because it causes blood to thicken and reduce blood flow, keeping fluids at your feet.

Risks of swollen feet and ankles

While most cases of swelling will return to normal as you touch down at your destination, excessive and prolonged swelling can make moving around and putting your shoes on painful. Mobility can be restricted and you may even feel numb in those areas. Severe, long-term swelling can also indicate a more serious condition called deep vein thrombosis (or a blood clot). If you experience swelling and pain or other symptoms described above, you may want to seek medical attention. Contact Dr. Carl Ingrassia of Fords Food and Ankle Care, where our doctor will treat your foot and ankle needs.

How to prevent edema during your flight

  • Wear clothes that are not too constricting. Compression socks or leggings can be helpful to keep the blood flow.
  • Keep your legs and feet moving even while sitting. Request and aisle seat and do small exercises even within your seat area. Avoid crossing your legs, which restricts circulation.
  • Take walks up and down the aisle and do some stretches if you can, especially if your flight is more than a couple hours.
  • Bring an empty bottle and stay hydrated! Request extra water so that you can continue to sip throughout your flight. Avoid salty snacks to prevent further bloating and alcohol, which can cause you to be too unsteady to safely walk around the cabin.

If you have any further concerns or are often experiencing swelling in your feet and ankles, please contact our office located in Fords, NJ at 732-738-4441. We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to prevent and treat your foot and ankle needs.