Long flights can be intimidating. For some people, they’re annoying. Still others just adjust the seat back and sleep or take the time to read. Whatever long flights mean to you personally, there’s one thing that they mean to everyone. Possible health concerns. A lot of people don’t think of this, but sitting for such a long period of time can open you up to all kinds of health issues ranging from uncomfortable to deadly.
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How to Mitigate the Health Effects of Long Flights
There are a few things you can do to help stay healthy on extended plane trips. I recently took a flight to Zambia, and it was the longest flight I’ve ever taken so I researched before I left. And I learned a few things along the way on the 15 hour flight, two hour van ride and two hours to New York to meet up with my companions. By doing a few simple things, you can make sure you stay healthy and comfortable on those extra long plane trips that we sometimes have to take.
Moving is crucial to staying healthy on these types of flights. Get up and walk around. The change in pressure coupled with the extended seated time can cause blood clots to form. These can be deadly if they break off and enter the lungs. So get up and walk around every hour. Keeping the blood moving is key to preventing clots. And invest in a good pair of compression stockings. I scoffed at these until the flight to Zambia and ended up buying a pair at the airport just before boarding. They were like a small massage for my legs most of the way there. Best investment yet. Compression stockings are made with tighter elastic which creates a gently pressure from your ankles up and lowers the potential for edema, or deep vein thrombosis.
While the whole ear popping thing isn’t dangerous, it certainly hurts! Chewing gum can help keep the ear popping to a minimum, which means minimum pain. In addition to that, the constant chewing can help you release stress if you’re a nervous flyer. Keep mints, or cough candies or something to suck on if your throat gets dry and you need to stifle a cough.
Plenty of Liquids
It’s so important to stay hydrated. This is true of flying and life in general. Staying hydrated helps every aspect of our health, and it can be especially helpful on long flights. That’s because staying hydrated can help keep your mood steady, your body in tip top shape, and more importantly promote a body that is less prone to clots. A hydrated body is a healthier body. Flights and airports are excruciatingly drying to your system. You need the extra water so ask for it and drink up.
Keep the Stress Low
If you’re a stressed out flyer, long flights are not going to be your bag. Heck, even some seasoned flyers hate extended flights. That being said, you have to do everything you can to keep your stress level low. High stress can lead to increase blood pressure, which you don’t need on top of the drastic pressure changes of flight and the possibility of clots.
Be sure to bring along your favorite music, book, or the like. You need something to distract yourself from the flight, or at least keep your thoughts on the flight to a minimum. Watch a movie, relax with a good book. Bring your KOBO or your Kindle and make some time for sleep as well. No use being completely exhausted when you get to your destination.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you have ANY sort of medical condition, talk with your doctor before going on an extended flight. This is especially important if you are already prone to blood clotting. When it comes to long flights and your health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Long Flights – Doing Your Best to Be Healthy
Long flights can be stressful. They can even be dangerous. These tips can help you have less stress and less chance of medical complications during a long flight. However, always check with your physician before taking any long flights. It’s important to be safe when it comes to long flights, so be smart and have fun!
What’s the longest flight you were ever on?