How ready are you for air travel?

Published 14.08.2017 00:00
How ready are you for air travel?

No matter how practical and comfortable airplane travel is, there are some inevitable troubles faced during transit like jet lag and ear barotrauma. Here is some advice for an easy going airplane ride

Airplane travel is one of the most popular travel methods in today's world. While this mode of transportation has the ability to minimize seemingly long distances, airplane travel also offers a more comfortable travel experience compared to other modes of transportation.

Another feature which makes it different from other means of travel is its effects on the human body. The rate of pressure and humidity is quite different than on land. Therefore, it is necessary for airplane passengers to be mindful of some points both before and during a flight to ensure that they have a healthy flight experience.

Before boarding

The first thing one needs to do before going on a flight is to check the weather forecast at their destination. Assuming that you have prepared your luggage accordingly, do you know how to prepare your body for the flight?

Mind the climate

Changes in climate can have a negative effect on the immune system. Before embarking on your flight, you should definitely pack suitable clothes for the destination. If you are going abroad, it will be wise to extend the precautions a bit and check for the location of your nearest medical facilities in the vicinity of your hotel.

Take your medicine with you

If you are taking medications regularly, be sure to take them with you in your carry-on luggage. Also, visit your doctor before the flight to make sure you are in good health.

Drink plenty of water

One of the most common health problems travelers face is dehydration, which is caused by changing altitude and not consuming enough water. Flight dehydration is caused especially caused by the low humidity rates in the cabin. While normal indoor humidity rates are between 30 and 65 percent, the air in a cabin, on the other hand, is very dry with 10 to 20 percent humidity. Hence, you should be sure to consume enough water before the flight and throughout. Since caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages should not be substituted for water, you can also try mineral water or lemonade. The Vitamin C in lemonade will help boost your immune system.

Pay attention to your diet

During a flight, the immune system gets run down due to the cabin pressure, making you more prone to illnesses from other passengers. A few healthy cues will help you to fortify your immune system and have a more joyful and comfortable flight.

-Eat a full breakfast before the flight.

-Eat plenty of greens.

-Stay away from legumes like peas and beans which can cause post meal bloating.

-Avoid eating fast food.

-Try not to consume hot or spicy foods excessively.

During the flight

Stay activeInactivity during a flight slows down blood circulation. Staying in a sitting position for long periods of time can cause fluid to accumulate in the legs and feet. This is not a serious problem as circulation increases when you stand up and while walking. However, sitting in a stationary position for long hours during a flight can result in serious fluid retention in the legs and feet and cause swelling. During your flight, walk to the back of the plane and squat down and stand up a few times. On the other hand, if you are in a sitting position, pull your knees towards your body and let them down. If your flight is a very long one, try to get up and move around as often as you can.

How to prevent jet lag

Jet-lag is a physiological reaction to your surroundings which distorts sleep patterns due to travelling across more than one time zone and cause inconsistencies in the biological clock. When you fly to a different time zone, your biological clock can struggle. This may make you feel exhausted during the daytime hours and lead to insomnia. You also may wake up with a headache. The best way to prevent this is by sticking to your typical sleep schedule. To be able to overcome the negative effects of jet lag, you can plan your sleep schedule ahead of time, according to your destination. Some of the common symptoms of jet lag are daytime exhaustion, sleeplessness, concentration problems, malfunction, unrest, stress, headaches, indigestion or irregular intestinal motility along with stomach problems.

Lessen the effects of jet lag

Make a schedule beforehand. Organize a program before setting out on your trip to be able to adapt yourself to the time zone in your destination. If you are due to travel to the East, begin to sleep 30 minutes earlier every day until you get synchronized with your destination's sleep time. If your destination is toward the West, do it the other way round - i.e. sleep 30 minutes later every day.

Spend time out in the sun. Your biological routine is highly affected by the sunlight. Going out into the sun during the peak daylight hours will help you to adapt. While you are traveling to the West, make use of the daylight in the early hours of the morning, however, avoid lights in the afternoon and evening.

Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine is a fine stimulus and its effects may last longer than expected. It also makes it hard for the body to adapt to a new sleeping routine. Alcohol, on the other hand, slows down blood circulation and alters the body's sleep routine. Consume plenty of water instead of alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Consuming adequate amounts of water will also prevent headaches.

Yawning will release you

During flight we generally experience a mediocre unrest in our ears. An aural fullness and hum are felt within the ear. If this is the case, which is called "ear barotrauma," and it lasts more than a few hours, the person may experience dizziness, earache, partial hearing loss, tinnitus and even bleeding in the ear in severe cases. Ear barotrauma is caused by imbalanced air pressure between the inner ear and the middle ear. Here, the problem is the blocked Eustachian tube. When this tube between the inner and middle ear is closed, pressure builds up and it cannot be controlled by the person.

To be able to balance ear pressure, air flow has to travel through the Eustachian tube.

Physiological problems like ear infections, build up, allergies, earwax-borne irritation and scar formations from childhood ear infections may block the Eustachian tube. Yawning or swallowing during a flight could help your ears to release. If you are travelling with your baby, you should breastfeed often to be able to prevent the unrest caused by ear barotrauma. Also, consuming water during a flight will release pressure around your Eustachian tube and so decrease the inner pressure.


Studies show that cherries and cherry juice contain melatonin which has a calming effect on the human body. Research conducted on a group of people who consumed between eight to 10 glasses of cherry juice in the mornings and evenings indicated that the subjects successfully got back on their regular sleeping routines. Those with sleeping disorders also overcame their problems.

Tomato, an indispensable component of traditional Mediterranean cuisine, is another food which will help keep your sleep routine regulated. Tomato has 50-times more melatonin than cherries. So, if you are facing sleeping irregularities, try to consume tomato especially at breakfast.

Like cherries, bananas also have a melatonin-regulative effect. Thanks to the potassium and magnesium levels in bananas this fruit helps the muscles to relax. If you are facing leg cramps especially while sleeping, you should try eating a banana before bed.

Among the leafy greens, spinach is rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. Calcium helps the body to produce melatonin and perform its regular rhythm. Other leafy greens that offer similar benefits include Swiss chard, cabbage and turnips, along with other dark-green vegetables.

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