In-Flight Health

 

Flying Healthy

 

Just before you reach your dream destination, we have put together some recommendations to help you to deal with changes that your body may undergo during the flight and improve the comfort of your flight. The way to health on the flight begins here.


Conditions on the plane

Cabin Humidity and Dehydration

The low humidity in the outside air pumped into the passenger cabin causes extremely low humidity levels - under 25% - that can lead to dryness in the nose, throat, eyes (including itching under contact lenses). To deal with this, it is advisable to drink water and juice frequently and limit your coffee, tea and alcohol intake during the flight, as these lead to a loss of fluids and contribute to increased dehydration.  Passengers who wear contact lenses are advised to remove them and replace them with eyeglasses to prevent irritation to the eyes. In addition, it is recommended to use a moisturizer to refresh the skin.


Compressed Air in the Passenger Cabin

The atmospheric pressure outside the plane cannot support human life, making it necessary to compress the air in the passenger cabin, as close as possible to the pressure on earth (at the highest flying altitudes, the air pressure is similar to that at most ski sites).

After takeoff and before landing, air pressure in the passenger cabin changes, which generally does not present a problem to most passengers (children and babies are particularly sensitive to this). However, if you suffer from inflammation in the upper respiratory system or the sinuses, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), anemia or heart disease, you may experience discomfort due to the relative low amount of oxygen in the air or due to pressure changes in the nose, throat and ears.

If you suffer from allergies affecting your nose or from a cold, swollen nasal membranes can block the tiny canals between the nasal passages and the Eustachian tubes, causing discomfort and pain when the plane descends. Consult with your physician about the use of nasal sprays, mucus dilators and antihistamines about 30 minutes before the descent to help open the ear passages and sinuses.

You can try to equalize pressure in your ears by swallowing or yawning. These actions can help open your Eustachian tubes, while equalizing pressure between the inner ear and the pharynx. When traveling with a baby, you can feed him or give him a pacifier during descent. Sucking and swallowing can help babies to equalize the pressure in their ears. If you suffer from a medical condition that requires extra oxygen, you can order it from us. Please notify us of your needs at least seven days before your flight.

During the Flight

 

Food and Drink Consumption

Proper eating and drinking will enhance your comfort both during and immediately after the flight. It is recommended to avoid overeating before and during the flight as it is difficult to digest much food when the body is not active. It is also advisable to minimize your consumption of coffee, tea and alcohol.


Muscle Relaxation

Sitting erect with no physical activity for a long period of time can lead to a number of possible processes:

  • Muscles may tense up, causing back pains and a feeling of exhaustion during and even after the flight
  • Pressure on leg veins may disrupt the flow of blood back to the heart
  • Disruption of the normal blood return mechanism to the heart, together with the effects o​f gravity, may cause legs to swell after a long flight, because fluids accumulate in the tissues
  • There is a theory that extended lack of movement, for any reason, combined with certain medications or specific medical risk factors may hasten the formation of Deep Vein Thrombosis in the legs

The list of heightened risk factors for thrombosis formation in the legs, according to medical studies, includes a personal or family history of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis); recent surgery or injury, especially in the lower limbs or abdomen; circulatory system problems that cause excessive clotting, inactivity for a day or more; age above 40; hormonal treatment with estrogen, including contraceptives; pregnancy; smoking tobacco products; malignant disease in the past or the present; obesity; dehydration; varicose veins in the legs.

If you belong to one of the above risk groups or have any concern about your health in relation to the flight, we recommend that you seek medical consultation before the flight. Elastic stockings may help prevent ankle and foot swelling and may also improve blood return from lower limbs. During the flight, move your legs and feet for three or four minutes every hour while seated and also try to walk around the passenger cabin once in a while. Do the easy exercises recommended below, in the section on "Inflight Physical Activity".

In-Flight Physical Activity

The following flight tips or exercises are intended to provide a safe way of stretching and enjoying movement of certain muscle groups which may otherwise tense up as a result of long hours of sitting. The exercises should be effective in increasing blood flow in the body and in massaging the muscles. We recommend performing these exercises with minimum disturbance to other passengers. Avoid any exercise that causes you pain or that you cannot perform easily.

  • Ankle Twirls
    Lift your feet from the floor. Outline a circle with your toe tips, moving one foot clockwise and the other counterclockwise. Switch directions. Twirl in each direction for 15 seconds. Repeat as many times as you like.
  • Foot pushes
    The movement is done in three stages:
    1. Begin with both feet on the floor, raising them as high as you can
    2. Place both feet flat on the floor
    3. Raise your heels high, keeping the toe tips on the floor
    Perform these three stages in a continuous movement at intervals of 30 seconds
  • Knee Lif
    Raise your leg with knee bent, contracting the thigh muscle. Switch legs. Repeat 20 to 30 times for each leg.
  • Neck Swivels
    ​With shoulders relaxed, lower your ear to your shoulder and gently move your neck forward and backward, holding each position for five seconds. Repeat the exercise 5 times.
  • Knee to Chest
    ​Bend forward slightly. Wrap your hands around your left knee and hug it to your chest. Hold this contracted position for 15 seconds. Still holding your knee with your hands, lower it slowly. Switch knees. Repeat the exercise 10 times
  • Forward bend
    ​With both feet on the floor and belly contracted inward, slowly bend forward and move your hands downward, advancing towards your feet in the direction of your ankles. Hold this stretched position for 15 seconds and slowly return to an erect sitting position.
  • Shoulder Rotation
    ​Arch your shoulders forward and then upward and downward in gentle circular movements.

Effects of M​otion

 

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is caused by a conflict between our sight sense and our sense of equilibrium which is located in the inner ear. Turbulence increases motion sickness because it increases movement of the fluid in the inner ear. Focusing your eyes on a fixed object or place without moving them helps to reduce dizziness and nausea.  Over-the-counter drugs are available; however, we recommend consulting with your doctor regarding which medications are suitable for you.

Jet Lag

When we fly, we are moving at high speed, through several time zones, causing a disturbance to our body’s biological clock, without giving the body an opportunity to adjust to the new night and day cycles. In general, the more time zones you cross in the course of your flight, the more your biological clock will be disrupted. The most prevalent symptoms of jet lag are insomnia, fatigue, loss of concentration, loss of appetite or a desire to eat at unusual times. Generally, the biological clock requires an average of one day for each time zone crossed, to adjust to the time zone at the final destination.

To minimize the effects of fatigue, it is recommended to rest and have a good night’s sleep before the flight; if possible, after arriving at your destination, give yourself a day or two to adjust to the new time zone; if at all possible, fly with direct flights to your destination to minimize the flight duration and thus the jet lag too. If you are not able to sleep after arriving at your destination, try to perform some moderate exercise; go out for a vigorous walk or simply read something.

  • This is to clarify that the information provided here is general and not intended to replace consultation with a certified doctor