Health during the flight. Tips for healthy travel

Health during the flight. Tips for healthy travel

Before our trip we care about many things: luggage packing, documents for travel, buying presents, flight safety, delay, cancellation, but we care less about our health and well-being on the board. This post will answer the question:  how to have a pleasant flight during and after our travel by plane, minimizing the effects of dizziness, headaches, dry skin, drowsiness, nausea, malaise and other symptoms that appears on the board and still continue after the flight was accomplished.
To enjoy a pleasant and healthy  flight you should take into consideration the following recommendations:

1. Before the departure all doctors recommend not to be over-tired.  It’s important to rest and sleep at night. Do not think or expect to have a sleep in the plane. You’ll never get a good sleep (especially if you are flying in economy class), practically it is impossible, so have a rest prior your flight.

2. Drink enough water and minimize the intake of alcohol, carbonated and caffeine beverages: the perfect drink on the board is water. In the airplane the air is 55% drier and the pressure is higher and your body need to stay well hydrated. Water helps to reduce headaches that can occur during the flight. Alcohol, coffee and carbonated beverages can make you feel bad during take-off, landing or turbulence. Caffeine beverages will not allow you to fall asleep on the plane, while alcohol increases the risk of dehydration. The effects of alcohol vary depending on the altitude you are flying.  Try to opt for water or herbal tea like mint, chamomile etc. If you want to avoid going often in the toilet being on board , it is recommended to  drink plenty of water during the days before your flight.
Do not eat too much before and during the flight. Try to eat healthy food like fruits, nuts and salads. Avoid beans, garlic, onions, fried potatoes, hamburgers, spicy and salty food.

3. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes: to feel pleasant and relaxed during the flight avoid tight ones, especially trousers, socks, and shoes. The shoes should be suitable for walk on long distances. You can use support stockings from the pharmacy, that will reduce leg swelling.
Even if you are traveling during the summer, the temperature average in the airplane is about 20 degrees. If you are not dressed properly, the temperature differences lead to discomfort or illness.

4. If your ears feel plugged or start to hurt during take-off or landing:  water, chewing gum, hard candy, deep breaths, or yawn can alleviate the air pressure in the ears. Try Valsalva maneuver: get some air into your moth, pinch your nostrils together, then gently force air out. It is not recommended if you got a cold or have allergies. In this case you can try Toynbee maneuver: close your mouth and nose and swallow several times until pressure equalizes.

5. Prevent vein thrombosis in the legs: move and stretch your legs at regular intervals. Sitting for a long time without moving your legs can cause the condition of traveler’s thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots. Do not be shy to move on the board and perform leg exercises at your seat.
– raise the tips of your toes, move them and stretch
– massage your calves gently
– hold your knees to your chest for 15 seconds
– rotate your ankles
– raise and lower each leg
– take deep breaths from time to time
– turn your head, shoulders, ankles and stretch.
– wear loose comfortable clothing, comfortable shoes and socks (like compression stockings)
– after consulting with your doctor, take a low dosage of aspirin the days before, during and after the flight, to improve blood flow and do not cross your legs
– avoid travel by plane if you have recently suffered a bone fracture, surgery  or if you have an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis; talk to your doctor for advises.

6. Leg cramps: the best remedy is activity. Aisle seat is the prefect for you, so you can stretch your legs when possible, and can get up at least every hour. Massage your calf muscles and stretch at the back of the plane. Abstain from caffeine and alcohol, as they can increase dehydration and cramping. Ask the crew for ice, or ice-pack if it is available, and use it on the affected areas.

7. Headaches and runny nose: the humidity in the cabin does not exceed 20%, which leads to headaches, dry skin and mucous membranes.  Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause headaches and  your nose will begin to run to compensate the lack of water in the body. Take with you moisturizing lotion and nasal spray. Remember, you can have on board a bottle up to 100 ml each.

8. Turn on the ventilation above your seat to keep away dust particles and germs in the plane: even if you feel a little bit cold, let the air vent work. Ventilation creates its own air barrier, forcing viruses to stay on the floor. If you feel very cold, turn the air condition in another direction, not to blow on you, or another passenger.
To avoid infections on the board use antibacterial wipes/gel to disinfect your seating area and wash your hands as often as possible, especially before you eat. During 1 week before your travel take vitamins to boost your body’s immunity. Before your flight try to avoid the contact with sick or contagious persons.

9. The time zone change creates discomfort to our general health state and immunity system and some simple advises will help to prevent all this.  Try to adapt to the new schedule: some days before departure go earlier or later for sleep according to the time zone you have your trip.

10. If you suffer from chronic diseases and are taking medication: stay healthy during your trip by plane and do not forget to take with you medications in your carry-on bag.
The passengers that need special assistance during the flight will inform the airline company well in advance, for details please check here

11. When feeling unwell and present nausea, general weakness, dizziness:  reduce the intake of food and try to take a horizontal position as possible. Keep in your carry-on bag travel pills. If you don’t have any travel pills you can take a hard candy, chewing gum, mineral water or orange juice. In case of dizziness it is recommended to look for a few minutes to an immovable object.
If all else fails:
– do not hesitate to consult the cabin crew that  is trained to provide emergency assistance for passengers who are feeling unwell
– if the flight attendant is not able to provide enough assistance, passengers with medical knowledge on board may be asked for assistance

12. Turbulence:  creates a discomfort and  makes us feel anxious, but there’s nothing to be worried about according to pilots. Turbulence occurs when an aircraft travels through unstable air currents, or travels through clouds, or  when it is close to the ground is often caused by heavy winds, producing shaking. Although it can also occur where there are no clouds, making it hard to predict
In case of turbulence, keep your seat-belt fastened whenever you are seated, do not stand up and walk in the aircraft.

13. Music: all we know that music has beneficial effects to our health and mental state. It reduces depression and anxiety, boosts the immune system and reduces pain, improves sleep quality and just make us happier and relaxed. To listen to music during the flight is more than recommended.  Do not forget to take in your carry-on bag earphones. Or, if you want to enjoy silence you can take with you earplugs.

14. If you are pregnant:  Talk to your doctor before flying, you might need other protection, like vaccines or medicines. Your doctor also may not recommend flying in certain states. For more information regarding travel during pregnancy, please check here

15. Other advises: you can have in your carry-on bag facial tissues, blanket, pillow, eye mask. If food and drinks are not served on the board you can take with you snacks, granola bars, fresh or dried fruits, veggies, trail mix. You can’t take liquids through security, but you can take an empty water bottle. A lot of airports have water stations to fill up the bottle.

Check also successful air travel with children, fun things to do on a plane and meal on the board.

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10 thoughts on “Health during the flight. Tips for healthy travel

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