Air travel is not only fast and convenient, but also a rather dangerous form of transportation for people with certain chronic diseases.
When planning a trip, you choose the most suitable mode of transport every time. Usually the selection criteria are speed, comfort, convenience and price. But few people think about the impact of a particular mode of transport on human health.
If you prefer an airplane as a transport for long-distance travel, then you should remember that air travel is not safe for everyone. For some people, they can cause a lot of inconvenience and discomfort, and for certain categories they are generally critically contraindicated.
Air travel and health: risk factors
We list the most likely factors that pose a threat to human health during air travel.
Decreased pressure in the cabin
Despite the complete tightness of the cabins of modern aircraft, the pressure on board is less than normal atmospheric pressure and corresponds to the pressure at an altitude of 1500 — 2500 meters above sea level. Theoretically, pressure can be maintained at a normal level, but this will require additional fuel costs and, as a result, more expensive tickets, so airlines are making conscious savings.
A healthy person tolerates low blood pressure without problems, but for some categories of people this will cause some discomfort due to a decrease in the supply of oxygen to the blood. Particular caution should be shown to people with diseases of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
air in the plane
As is known from the school physics course, any gas tends to expand in case of heating or at reduced pressure. Since the pressure in the cabin decreases when the aircraft rises, the air that is in the paranasal cavities and in the middle ear cavity expands. When a person is healthy, the air escapes without problems through special holes located near the nasal passages, and when landing, when the pressure in the cabin increases, on the contrary, it returns. But with diseases that prevent the free movement of air in these areas (for example, a runny nose), due to pressure drops, unpleasant and even painful sensations in the ears can occur. To help the air “pass”, hold your nose tightly and, without opening your mouth, exhale strongly.
Another feature of the air on board the aircraft is its extremely low humidity — 20% and below, while the comfortable threshold for a person is 30%. Prolonged contact with dry air causes drying of all mucous membranes, skin and eyes. To avoid this, or at least minimize it, follow these recommendations:
- Drink still water or juice frequently.
- Do not drink carbonated and sweet water, alcohol, coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks immediately before and during the flight, as they have a diuretic effect and further aggravate the harmful effects of dry air.
- If you have poor eyesight, opt for glasses over contact lenses while flying.
- Do not apply makeup, but if for some reason this cannot be avoided, then apply a high-quality moisturizing base under it.
Air travel involves forced immobility, and the longer the flight lasts, the more unpleasant the consequences for health can be. The legs suffer the most from long flights: due to constant sitting on a chair, they become numb, blood circulation slows down and blood vessels constrict, which increases the risk of blood clots.
Most often, this does not have any negative health consequences, but if the resulting blood clot is large, it can lead to swelling and pain in the lower legs, and more severe cases. This is all the more likely if you are in the “risk” group:
- You or someone close to you has had a thrombosis in the past
- If you are using hormonal and other estrogen-containing drugs
- You have recently suffered a lower body injury
- You are pregnant
- You have problems with blood clotting
- Do you smoke
Therefore, if you are planning a long flight and belong to one or more of the above groups, you should consult your doctor.
Adhere to the following recommendations to reduce the risk of thrombosis to a minimum:
- Drink more water
- Do not smoke before and during the flight
- Change the position you are sitting in often.
- If possible, walk around the salon. If you are not allowed to walk, then just stand, shifting from foot to foot.
- Choose those seats for sitting in front of which there is more free space.
- Wear comfortable loose clothing and shoes.
- 2–3 hours before the flight, take half an aspirin tablet, this medicine thins the blood, which prevents the formation of blood clots.
Air travel and health. Part 2
Author: Alexander Kuznetsov
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