Tips to stay healthy on your next flight
Traveling by plane should bring pleasure especially if you’re traveling for vacation. In the age of mass global travel when airlines provide increasingly comfortable conditions, this is not a problem at all. But that does not mean that all passengers tolerate the flight well.
In general, plane travel is well-suited for almost all. Even elderly and disabled people can fly without experiencing health side effects. However, if you have a serious medical conditions, you should consider planning your journey. Health professionals should assess if there are any health reasons not to fly.
What conditions may cause special concern?
- DVT (deep vein thrombosis)
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Acute infectious disease
- Exacerbation of asthma
- Increased intracranial pressure
- Myocardial infarction or stroke
Flying During Recovery
People should abstain from flying after a stroke. The Aerospace Medical Association Guidelines recommend to fly only 2 weeks after a stroke, or in 3 days in the extreme cases.
Flying with high blood pressure is fraught with negative consequences. High altitude increases blood pressure and decreases oxygen levels. It can cause fatigue, brain fog and dizziness.
Many studies have shown an association between DVT and flying. Deep venous thrombosis is a serious problem that can bring lethal outcomes. Blood clots can develop during long-distance travel when passengers stay immobile for an extended amount of time. Flying after surgery is not recommended due to clotting mechanisms as well that tend to increase activity after surgery. The risk is higher if you had surgery below the waistline. Post-operative instructions prohibit plane trips for two weeks after surgery. This period can be shorter or longer: from 1-2 days after simple cataract surgery or colonoscopy to 6 weeks after surgery for retinal detachment. Consult your health care provider if you feel you might be at risk.
Flying During Pregnancy
Flying during pregnancy is usually safe with the exception of the last trimester. The doctors do not recommend flying after 36 weeks. There is high risk of going into labor in the air. Some airlines even prohibit air travels for women nearing the end of pregnancy. Women with higher risk of miscarriage should avoid travelling by plane in first trimester of pregnancy when such risk is higher. Also, long distance travel (5+ hours) can affect pregnant women badly if woman has increased risk of thrombosis.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend not to fly after 37 weeks. Women expecting twins should not fly after 32 weeks. The fitness to fly should be accessed by a health care provider.
Several flight tips for expectant mothers:
- Purchase a seat with maximum room for your belly and legs (to stretch them out and avoid swollen legs after flying).
- It is recommended to sit near the wings that provide smoother ride.
- Early morning trips tend to have less turbulence.
Air travel does not cause problems in itself but it can complicate the condition of a person who is vulnerable to uneven pressure. In case you suffer from ear-related diseases the chances of complications during flight increase. Much depends upon the severity of the condition. In some cases, it just causes discomfort but it can also cause pain and even ruptured eardrum. One of the health flight solutions is to put off the plane trip until you get better.
Passengers can have ear pain during flight because Eustachian tube is blocked. Increase of pressure in the middle ear brings to ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and, in some cases, to hearing loss.
Flying with an ear infection can cause discomfort but there are tricks to remove or alleviate it.
- Take medicine that inflates the Eustachian tubes after takeoff. It can decrease pressure.
- You can take antihistamine tablets, use decongestant spray or syrup. It will decrease the amount of mucus.
- Chew gum or suck sweets. When you chew and swallow, this makes air flow up in the Eustachian tube and helps to regulate pressure.
- Use deep breathing technique. You breathe in deeply and then let the air slowly out with mouth closed. Start doing it before you land when you feel discomfort.
- Flying with a sinus infection can be easier if you buy pressure-regulated earplugs. You can wear them during the whole journey.
Tips for Staying Healthy on a Flight
Tips for long flights include the following:
- Aspirin or other anticoagulant can protect against blood clotting.
- Staying hydrated is necessary. Drink water, avoid sugary drinks, alcohol and caffeine.
- Massage your calves to improve blood circulation.
- Wear compressed stockings that reduce risk of DVT.
- Clothes should not be tight and restrictive.
- Take a seat near the aisles to walk from time to time and stretch your legs. Inactivity causes swollen feet after flying. Physical activity helps to dissolve blood clots.
Follow these tips if you want to stay healthy and enjoy your next flight!