Issue #1: Stressed immune system
Pre travel time can be stressful with work deadlines to meet and plenty to organise before you take off, not to mention the farewell celebrations. If you’re run down and sitting next to a sick person on a flight, by the time you touch down you could be sniffling too.
- Try taking a supplement, like the Frequent Flyer Health Boost, to help support your immune system in the air.
- The nose is the body’s first line of defence against respiratory infections. Use a saline nasal decongestant (such as FESS saline spray) every two hours during the flight to keep this system clear.
- If you’re worried about your health, take some Vitamin B (or Berrocca) when you land.
Issue #2: Changing Cabin Pressure
During take-off, the cabin pressure of a commercial flight can change from comfy sea level to altitudes of 28,000 – 35,000 feet within minutes. Cabins are pressurised to a maximum of 8000 feet above sea level to allow travellers to breathe more comfortably, but you’re still going to feel the effects of high altitude.
- Equalise pressure and avoid ear-popping by sucking on a menthol or chewing gum to promote swallowing.
- If you have ear or sinus infections or a cold, avoid in-flight pain by using a saline nasal spray thirty minutes prior to take off and landing.
Issue #3: Dehydration
A comfortable humidity level is 60 -70%, but depressurised cabin air is just 12-21%, the same as a desert!
- To minimise dehydration from low cabin humidity, drink 2-3 glasses of water plus a dose of oral rehydration solution (such as Hydralyte) every five hours.
Don’t worry about having to get up and down to the loo all the time as this will help with circulation!
- Dry, scratchy eyes are one of the most uncomfortable health issues to have on a flight. Eye drops or an eye mist (such as Murine Eye Mist) will immediately hydrate and restore the natural film of protective moisture – great if you’ve been crying over the inflight movie.
- Skin gets dehydrated as well during flights, especially for women. Studies show cheek moisture can decrease by 37 per cent – so moisturize at least once during a flight, even if you have to use the hand lotion in the bathroom!
Issue #4: Jetlag
Jetlag is the uncomfortable aftermath of a flight through time zones, where your circadian rhythms (internal clock) become out of sync – even a few hours time difference can lead to exhaustion.
- Choose a flight that arrives in the afternoon or early evening arrival and stay up until 10 p.m. local time.
- As soon as you board the flight, set your clock to the local time of your destination. If it’s night where you’re going, try to get some sleep on the flight.
Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine – they will worsen jetlag by contributing to dehydration and give your body stimulants that throw out natural sleep patterns.
- Walk around the cabin to keep the body moving; otherwise that heavy feeling will follow you off the plane.
- When you land at your destination, do some light exercise like going for a casual stroll or a relaxing swim.
- If it’s daytime get some exposure to sunlight to set your internal clock to local time.
For more travel health tips, visit Dr Natalie Gray, National Medical Director, The Travel Doctor-TMVC