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Updated 02 July 2014

Your body on a long flight

Whether you’re ensconced in first class or crammed into coach, flying above 30 000 feet for four-plus hours can affect your health. Here’s how…

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Whether you’re ensconced in first class or crammed into coach, flying above 30 000 feet for four-plus hours can affect your health. Here’s how…

Sinuses And Stomach

The plane’s filtered, ultra-low-humidity air can dry out your airways, stripping your nostrils of their protective mucus layer. Without that barrier, germs may have an easier time infecting your body’s cells. Your best defences are keeping your fingers out of your eyes and nose, and washing your hands often.

Need to use the loo? So would someone suffering from norovirus, a super-contagious cause of diarrhoea and vomiting. It can live on bathroom taps and door handles – even tray tables. Swabbing yours down with an alcohol-based wipe helps. So does using hand sanitiser after touching anything communal.

Blood

The cabin’s low air pressure and your own inactivity can be an ugly one-two punch that slows blood circulation, opening the door for deep vein thrombosis, when blood coagulates to clog your veins. Women on the Pill or with a family history of blood clots should take care to stretch or walk around for about five minutes every hour or so.

Ears

You may feel motion sickness in your tummy, but it starts in your inner ears. Those balance hubs can be thrown off by turbulence or whenever what you see (a stable cabin) doesn’t match what you feel (in-flight motion). Your best prevention: book a seat over the wings, the steadiest part of the plane.

Adding insult to injury, those tunes you’re blasting to block engine noise are wreaking havoc on your ears’ nerve cells – even if you’re playing Mozart. Your hearing won’t take a long-term hit after a plane ride or two, but if you’re a frequent flyer, you could be setting yourself up for permanent damage.

This story originally appeared on womenshealthsa.co.za - visit the site to read the full version.


 
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