After taking care of reservations and tickets, airport parking, and security what more is there to think about? If you are one of many who suffer from foot swelling when flying, that is a huge discomfort to consider. Swollen feet make flight unpleasant and painful. For those who continue to have swollen feet and ankles after landing, that can make a vacation or business trip uncomfortable as well.
What causes feet to swell when flying?
Low cabin pressure causes circulation to slow down and fluids to build up. Sitting in the same position for hours also reduces circulation. Dehydration is another factor. Dry air, lack of proper hydration and salty foods further contribute to this. Some of these causes are not things we have control of if we choose flying. The good news is there are preventative measures that can reduce swelling.
What are some preventative measures?
Get Up and Move
Movement is key to circulation. Make a point to stand up and stretch. Ideally, the human body should get up and move every twenty minutes to reduce aching muscles, joints, back pain and swelling. Getting up frequently might not be possible during takeoff, landing and turbulence, but for the rest of the trip, stand up and stretch for sixty seconds every twenty minutes. This will decrease aches in the rest of the body in addition to reducing swelling in the feet.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Loose, roomy clothes that aren’t constricting are ideal for maximum circulation. This goes for shoes as well.
Avoid Crossing Your Legs
If there isn’t a lot of leg room available, your legs are longer than average, or shorter than average, it is harder to keep those legs comfortable. It is tempting to cross your legs. But be aware, anything you do to constrict blood flow means that feet are more likely to swell.
Some airlines charge for beverages, while others don’t offer fluids often enough during the flight to actually hydrate. With increased safety procedures, it is harder to bring water on board. For that reason, one needs to buy water after security or bring empty bottles to fill in the water fountain after security. Bring more than you think you need—and drink it!
Isotonic drinks, or sports drinks which refuel electrolytes and contain potassium, are also recommended. If you can find one in the airport that is ideal. If not, consider drinking one before or after a flight.
Avoid Salty Foods
Airline snacks, whether pretzels or peanuts, as well as the meals on longer flights are filled with sodium. This causes the body to retain water. Avoid these if possible.
Eat Snacks High in Fiber
Bring snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grain carbohydrates that will help the body function and not retain water.
Coffee, tea and alcohol further dehydrate the body. If you need caffeine and caffeine pills are not an option, drink extra water to balance out the effects of diuretics like coffee.
Some people report success wearing compression stockings which have more support at the ankle than the knee. These are different than support stockings which have equal pressure.
Be aware that there are medications which are also diuretics. During normal circumstances these may not be a problem, but for those on a long flight, it may cause an increase in swelling. If you are on medications that you are concerned may increase symptoms or you know you take one that has a diuretic side effect, talk to you doctor about alternatives. For extreme circumstances, doctors may suggest a small dose of aspirin or a prescription medication.
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