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Comedian Anne Hirsch shares shocking picture of extremely swollen feet after 18-hour flight

2019-06-20 11:45
Anne Hirsch
Anne Hirsch. (Photo: Instagram/@anne_hirsch)

Cape Town - While travelling abroad is a dream for many, it might turn out a little nightmarish for your feet.

Swollen feet and ankles aren’t unusual when flying but things can get a little out of proportion.

Local comic Anne Hirsch is all too familiar with that. She recently shared a snap of her feet before and after an 18-hour flight to France and her tootsies were unmistakably plump in the after shot.

"Okay, guys, wasn’t gonna share this but I can’t deal with this on my own anymore. Please can we have a moment for my feet before and after an 18-hour flight," she captioned the pic on Facebook.

Anne (34) adds that she couldn’t tie her shoelaces for an entire day, but the swelling did eventually subside.

"I, however, will never be the same," she adds.

While it seems that in Anne’s case the only side-effect was swelling, this can sometimes lead to more serious health issues.

"Prolonged immobility, especially when seated, can lead to pooling of blood in the legs, which in turn might cause swelling, stiffness and discomfort," according to the World Health Organisation.

This can cause the development of a blood clot, which is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and can eventually – although rarely – lead to a pulmonary embolism (one of the arteries in the lung is blocked by a blood clot) if it isn’t broken down by the body.

In a study commissioned by WHO, it was found that "the risk of venous thromboembolism is increased two- to three-fold after long-haul flights (flights of more than four hours) and also with other forms of travel involving prolonged seated immobility. The risk increases with the duration of travel and with multiple flights within a short period."

On average, about one out of 6 000 passengers will suffer from DVT after a long-haul flight and it commonly occurs in older people, WHO says.

But this doesn’t always mean a pulmonary embolism is waiting to happen.

Here are a few tips by the UK National Health Service to ease the swelling:

Lie down and use pillows to raise the swollen area when you can

Get some gentle exercise, such as walking, to improve your blood flow

Wear wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel and soft sole

Wash, dry and moisturise your feet to avoid infections

Don’t stand or sit for long periods

Don’t wear clothes, socks or shoes that are too tight

WHO’s precautions for travelling:

Moving around the cabin during long flights will help reduce any period of prolonged immobility, although this may not always be possible. A regular trip to the bathroom (every two to three hours) is a reasonable measure.

Many airlines provide helpful advice on exercises that can be carried out in the seat during a flight. Exercise of the calf muscles can stimulate the circulation, alleviate discomfort, fatigue and stiffness, and might reduce the risk of developing DVT.

Hand luggage shouldn’t be placed where it restricts movement of the legs and feet, and clothing should be loose and comfortable.

In view of the clear risk of significant side-effects and absence of clear evidence of benefit, passengers are advised not to use aspirin specifically for the prevention of travel-related DVT.