With the holidays approaching, many will be traveling by airplane to get to their destinations. Unfortunately, air travel can be a stressful endeavor. Cramped cabins, long lines and delays are just some of the unpleasantries during air travel. One very common result, especially for longer flights, is swelling in the ankles and feet, also known as edema.
This swelling occurs when there is an accumulation of fluids in the body, which results in fluids pooling mostly around the lower legs and feet. Low cabin pressure and dry air contribute to poor blood circulation as well. Luckily, there are some easy ways to prevent this uncomfortable condition.
Keep hydrated – It’s easy to forget to hydrate because of liquid restrictions at airport security and wanting to avoid that awkward climb out of your seat to get to the bathroom, but staying hydrated is very important because it will help to keep the blood from thickening and increase circulation.
Keep moving – Don’t get too comfortable binge-watching all of the TV shows you saved for your trip. To avoid poor blood circulation, regularly get up from your seat to walk around or stretch. If you must stay in your seat due to turbulence or a sleeping neighbor, you can still get blood flowing by doing simple exercises, such as rotating your feet. Also, keep those legs uncrossed!
Wear comfortable shoes – Wearing uncomfortable shoes when you have to be on your feet for long periods of time can contribute to poor blood circulation and painful swelling. Avoid tight, restrictive shoes – easy on and off and comfortable shoes are the way to go.
Wear compression socks – For those who are prone to getting swollen feet or have conditions like lower extremity lymphedema, caused by fluid buildup due to damaged or blocked lymph nodes, wearing compression socks or stockings may be necessary to prevent swelling. Compression socks and stockings are made from elastic material that helps to increase circulation by compressing the veins in the feet and legs.
Avoid high sodium foods – Salty foods cause fluid retention, which can contribute to swelling, so save the chips and salted nuts for later.
Hopefully once you reach your destination your legs can recover fairly quickly. If you do notice that the swelling does not subside after a few days, it may be an indication that there is a more serious problem. Since there are a number of causes for lower extremity swelling, including kidney and heart problems, as well as hormonal or diet changes, it is important to get a professional opinion. Luckily, here at Syracuse Podiatry we have the experienced expertise of board certified podiatrist Dr. Ryan L. D’Amico to assess a whole range of foot and ankle problems. If you have any concerns, whether it is swelling or heel pain, Dr. D’Amico is here to help! Please call (315) 446-3668 to make an appointment at our office in Fayetteville, NY.