Q. My 61-year-old mother plans to take a long plane trip. Her legs usually become swollen when she flies a long distance. Should she wear elastic stockings or take any other precautions so she doesn't develop a blood clot in her legs?
A. Developing mild swelling in the feet, ankles, and lower legs is common during long-haul flights. Sitting still is the culprit — blood and fluid pool in the lower extremities because they aren't aided in their return to the heart by contractions of the leg muscles. When the swelling occurs in both legs, it is benign, though annoying (especially when it is difficult to put your shoes back on at the end of the flight). Swelling in one leg, however, may be worth further evaluation.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.