From headaches to bloating: 11 unpleasant side effects of air travel

Although flying is generally safe, you may experience some not very pleasant side effects on the altitude of 10 kilometers above the earth, says The Healthy.

От головной боли до вздутия живота: 11 неприятных побочных эффектов авиаперелета

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Flying in an airplane can be stressful or exciting, but there are a few things that can happen with your body, no matter how you feel about the flight. Here side effects that can occur in your body when you fly on a plane, and tips on how to reduce or avoid these unpleasant feelings.

Low oxygen levels can cause drowsiness or a headache

Although to prevent altitude sickness the atmospheric pressure in the cabin is adjustable, you may still experience drowsiness or headache.

“The lower oxygen pressure in the cabin equivalent altitude of 6000 to 8000 ft (1.8-2.4 km) — as in Mexico city, says Paulo Alves, MD, medical Director, aviation health MedAire company. The pressure drop creates mild hypoxia [low oxygen levels], which can cause headaches in some susceptible people”.

To prevent headaches, drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Blood, accumulating in your feet can cause swelling and not only

Many hours of sitting in a confined space can affect the flow of blood throughout the body, leading to swollen feet and ankles. It is also well known that the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) increases when the blood circulates poorly, as it happens while traveling on the plane.

“In this position, the veins in our legs can be compressed, and blood flow through them slows down, says Dr. Alves. While many suggest to get up and walk, Dr. Alves said that it could be dangerous in case of unexpected turbulence.

“Usually help simple exercises of the ankle joint rotation, flexion, extension — you can perform on your own seat as often as possible,” recommends the expert.

Risk factors for DVT include obesity, pregnancy or postpartum, contraceptive pill, age older than 40 years or a serious medical condition.

“People with risk factors for DVT will be easier if you use compression stockings, and some people with high risk may be indicated even the use of anticoagulant drugs,” says Dr. Alves. Talk to your doctor if you have one or more risk factors and you plan on flying in the near future.

You can get dehydrated

The air you breathe in the cabin, actually comes from outside, but at high altitude there is very little moisture.

“This air is very dry, with humidity less than 10% — said Quay Snyder, Ph. D., President and CEO of consulting services in aviation medicine. — Dehydration can cause fatigue, especially in combination with reduced air pressure in the cabin. Medical conditions and some medications can exacerbate these feelings”.

The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of water before boarding the plane. Bring your own bottle of water so you don’t have to ask it from the flight attendants (do not fill the bottle in the toilet, this water is unsuitable for drinking). Aerospace medical Association also recommends the use of eye drops to relieve the dry eyes, and saline nasal sprays to moisturize the nasal passages and prevent the nosebleed.

Pressure changes in the cabin lead to bloating

Aerospace medical Association claims that the flatulence at high altitude may increase to 25%.

“From physics we know that gas tends to expand from the pressure, says Dr. Alves. — When we fly in a plane, external pressure is gradually reduced, and any gas trapped in the cavity of our body will grow accordingly”.

This includes the gas in the intestine that can cause bloating. What to do? To hold gases harmful for your body, so it is best to release the gas — is surely preferable to do it in the toilet.

From pressure ears pop

Along with increased gas formation in the intestine, your ears will most likely feel the effects of change of air pressure.

“As you rise the gas expands, causing the eardrum to bulge out, which gives us the well-known sensation of pressure, says Dr. Alves. — This continues as long as air does not come out through the Eustachian tube to the throat, and ears going back to normal”.

Chewing gum useful for this process. During descent, the opposite occurs: air pressure increases, so more air must come back into the middle ear.

“This is achieved by swallowing or yawning, — says the doctor. Another way to do this is to gently displace the air from his lungs, covering his nose and mouth so that air passed through the Eustachian tube into the middle ear, equalizing the pressure again”.

You may not feel the taste of food

Plane food is unlikely so soft and tasteless as you thought. The thing is that the air with low humidity, you breathe in the plane dries the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose that can affect your sense of taste. Some studies show that the reduced cabin pressure and the background noise from the engines of the aircraft also affect your ability to taste during the flight.

“Dry mouth can reduce taste sensitivity, but the taste is restored with hydration,” adds Dr. Snyder.

Flights can cause a toothache

Less common gas changes in the body can even affect the teeth, as the gas enters the seal cavity or teeth adjacent to the sinus. Pain in the teeth due to pressure changes during the flight is called barodontalgia. Unfortunately, it is difficult to do something to prevent these unpleasant sensations. You can take painkillers during the flight to ease the symptoms, but if you have even a small toothache, contact your dentist before you scheduled flight.

Your skin loses moisture

Another unpleasant effect while flying — dry skin.

“Dehydration can lead to dryness and cracking of the lips, says Dr. Snyder. — Moisturizer before the flight can mitigate those effects.”

Keep drinking water to fill the fluid cells of the whole body, and wash your face when you step off the plane.

You may smell bad breath

During the flight, the mouth produces less saliva, which can encourage bacteria growth and lead to fetid breath. If you do not eat and drink water, the risk to experience what is called “morning breath” even if not flying in the morning.

“The combination of dry mouth and lack of teeth brushing during long flights can lead to unpleasant breath,” says Dr. Snyder. You can fix this by taking a toothbrush and continuing to drink a lot.

The long-haul flights, change your circadian rhythm

Circadian rhythm is your internal clock that control many body functions.

“Secretion of hormones, sleepiness, alertness and hunger, among other things, depend on our internal clock,” explains Dr. Alves. A trip to a different time zone throws the body’s confused and he needs time to adapt.

“The rule is that it takes about one day for every hour time zone we crossed, this means that after a six-hour transatlantic flight will take us about six days for a full re-sync our cycles with local time”, — said the expert.

What can you do if the trip is planned for a week or less?

“In the short trip it is often better not to try to really adjust to the new time zone because adaptation is impossible from a physiological point of view, he says. On the other hand, if we want to extend the stay in a tourist trip, it is better to try as soon as possible to adapt, often spending time in the sun and doing physical exercises in the open air.”

Because we are better adapted to longer day than to a shorter, flying from East to West are transferred easier than from West to East.

Most likely, you will not get sick

Despite the fact that infections are spread in conditions of low humidity in the cabin thanks to the HEPA filters is almost eliminated.

“The advantage is that the air in the cabin is replaced more often than in most industrial buildings, schools or homes, says Dr. Snyder. This breathability, combined with the modes of filtration and circulation reduces risk of airborne infections compared to non-flying environment”.

If you are not sitting near someone who coughs or sneezes, that’s not a reason to worry about a possible disease. However, bacteria can live on surfaces in the cabin, so wash your hands often and avoid contact with germs in the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.

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