When you fly regularly with business or on lots of regular holidays (lucky you) it can very quickly become standard fare and no longer seem like a big deal. This can then be a problem if it prevents you from taking the potential health risks seriously. While flying is largely safe, and statistically much safer than driving, it can cause a number of health issues nevertheless and it’s important to defend yourself against these. Her we will examine what some of those are.
Jet lag can be a problem if you need to be at the top of your game when you arrive in the other country if it’s a business trip etc. and it can also spoil the first few days of the holiday leaving you feeling groggy and ill when you should be enjoying yourself.
Normally jet lag won’t be too much of a problem if it’s a short flight (so don’t go creating a problem through a placebo effect), and it’s more likely to be a problem if you travel West to East. The solution is to try and sleep as much as possible on the plane, but then to convert yourself to the local time as soon as possible so that you stay awake until their night time if appropriate or go to bed early.
Sitting still for long periods of time in a small amount of space and with the pressure of the cabin is of course a recipe for causing problems for your circulation and particularly in the legs where there is some threat of deep vein thrombosis setting in. The solution is to make certain that you move around from time to time and get up to go to the toilet/for a walk. It also helps to keep your feet moving under the seat and just raising your feet up on your tip toes for instance can help this. If you are tall or have particularly long legs, then it is well worth booking early so that you can get a seat with extra leg room.
Women are not advised to fly during the first or third trimesters of pregnancy. During the first the foetus is too small and delicate and can be damaged, and during the third there is the danger of going into labor on the plane.
The pressure in the cabin on a plane can often cause swelling and particularly in the extremities. This usually isn’t a problem, but if you have a broken limb in a cast it can be a potential hazard and you should check with your doctors before flying. It’s also worth loosening or taking off any tight shoes as your feet will swell inside and can be uncomfortable and further restrict circulation.
The air conditioning on planes coupled with the expensive drinks makes dehydration a very real threat on the plane. Make sure to drink a lot before you get on and to buy a bottle of water to take with you as well. Bringing some moisturiser and lip balm is also a good idea to prevent your skin drying out, but remember this will need to be in a sealed bag for you to take it on the plane (or bought in duty free).
Another hazard of flying is simply being in such an enclosed space with so many other people coughing and sneezing. As the air remains inside the plane the entire time this is a perfect breeding ground for germs leading to colds and other problems. There is little you can do to prevent this other than making sure you have lots of sleep prior to flying and get your vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system strong. And for the courtesy of other passengers it’s polite to cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze.
Likewise this enclosed space and recycled air can cause air-born allergens to spread quickly and easily. If you have any lethal allergies such as a nut allergy you should inform the airline before you fly and they will then forbid nuts or your specific allergen to be brought onto the plane.
The low moisture on planes can exacerbate existing breathing problems, so if you have even mild asthma it is a good idea to bring your inhalers with you. Again though these will need to be sealed in a bag to get through security.