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…
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.
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.
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.