Beyond COVID: Traveling Safe This Summer
By Brian Zelis, M.D.
Family Medicine Physician
The CDC has cleared COVID-19 vaccinated Americans to travel again, and travel confidence is on the rise. TripAdvisor reports more than 67 percent of Americans are planning to travel this summer. If you’re hitting the road, or skies or rails, COVID-19 shouldn’t be your only concern.
Vaccinated? Pack Your Bags:
The CDC advises against domestic or international travel until you’re fully vaccinated. For domestic travel, even if you are fully vaccinated, wearing a mask is required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation in the U.S. as well as while indoors at transportation hubs like airports and stations.
For full CDC travel recommendations and state and country-specific restrictions, visit: www.cdc.gov.
With so much focus on COVID-19, other common travel-related health concerns may be taking a back seat. Blood clots can be a serious risk for some long-distance travelers. The CDC warns that anyone traveling more than four hours, whether by air, car, bus or train, can be at risk for blood clots. Before leaving on any trip, it’s important to check in with your primary-care physician to confirm if it’s safe for you to fly or if you should be sitting for prolonged periods of time.
The combination of long-distance travel with one or more of these risks may increase your likelihood of developing a blood clot:
- Older than 40
- Recent surgery or injury
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Previous blood clot/family history
- Active cancer/recent cancer treatment
- Limited mobility
- Varicose veins
Take A Stand:
On long trips, to improve the blood flow in your legs, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs, move them frequently and exercise your calf muscles. Extend your legs straight out and flex your ankles (pulling your toes toward you). Your doctor may even recommend that you wear low-pressure support stockings to prevent blood clots during long trips.
Know the Signs:
There are several symptoms that can be warning signs of blood clots. Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:
- Swelling of the leg, ankle or calf
- Redness or discoloration
- Increased warmth over the skin
Before You Go:
Travel takes a lot out of people, it’s a lot like exercise, and you need to prepare. For a few days or even up to a week before travelling, be sure to drink plenty of water and get adequate rest.
Understanding your personal risks, checking with your physician and taking the right preventive steps can be your ticket to healthy summer travel.
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