Avoid These Airplane Health Scares!

With summer vacation ramping up, on top of the ever-bustling business travel market, make sure you’re armed with the health and safety knowledge you need to survive altitudes up to 39,000 feet. Want an idea of how your body interprets this condition? Basically, the barometric pressure you’re faced with during a plane ride simulates much of the same feeling of sitting on top of an 8,000-foot mountain, and the air you breathe up there only has 20% of the humidity that you’re used to. So, if you’re feeling a bit off-balance when you take to the skies, that’s why!

First, let’s talk about your health; in a future piece, we’ll start to delve into airplane safety. Jetsetters and long-term business travelers face additional stresses on their bodies that most of us don’t have to contend with. For example, have you ever felt your ears pop when you rapidly ascended (or descended)? Even if your traveling doesn’t involve a flight, it’s a good idea to keep allergy medicine close by–truer if you don’t want to get the dreaded eardrum rupture. Stronger decongestants like Sudafed work well if you’ve had repeated issues with popping ears. Needless to say, avoid flying altogether if you are currently suffering from a sinus infection.

“Economy class syndrome” is in no way limited to flying coach, and it’s way too often overlooked by cramped travelers. What happens? Circulation gets slowed by air cabin pressure, especially in smaller, more constrictive airplanes. If you’re prone to DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, you might want to swallow your pride and head to the drugstore for some compression stockings. Low-dose aspirin is also known to prevent blood clots. If you have any of the risk factors for DVT, take precautions when boarding a flight longer than four hours. Walk back and forth in the aisle as much as possible, or stay put and tap your feet.

Don’t stop drinking! Water, that is! Recent studies blame the lack of humidity as one of the most dangerous risk factors in spreading colds and germs on a flight. Here’s a fact that should scare you from the notorious WebMDs: You’re 100 times more likely to catch a communicable illness on a flight than you would elsewhere.

Most travelers are at least aware of how easily disease spreads and that their eardrums may pop occasionally, but they forget the effects a flight has on their stomach. Cabin pressure increases air volume in the stomach, which is just what it sounds like. Avoid heavy meals, irritating foods, and beer before taking off.

Any jetsetters reading? Let us know some of your airplane health tips in the comments below!

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