Last Updated on March 20, 2020
Generally, traveling on a plane is safe. Yet, some unpleasant side effects that come with putting your body in a tube and sending it 35,000 ft above the ground can be inevitable.
As long as your flight isn’t delayed or canceled, you might be either feeling excited or stressed about reaching your next travel destination. But no matter what feelings you’re experiencing, certain things could still happen to your body anyway.
One thing you should be really concerned about is that being stuck on a plane with so many other people can put you at risk of catching bacteria and viruses, which could make you sick, especially when the airline’s cabin air is dry and the seating is cramped.
Now, check out the 10 things flying on a plane can do to your body, in addition to practical advice on how to prevent such problems.
10. You may feel sleepy or develop headaches
If you’re flying anytime soon, you may want to get psychologically ready to deal with the unpleasant effects that come with air travel.
In fact, traveling by plane might cause you a headache or sleepiness even if the cabin’s barometric pressure is adjusted. This is due to the aircraft cabin’s lower oxygen pressure; as the pressure drops, it leads to mild hypoxia, resulting in a headache in some passengers.
The good news is that you can easily avoid those air-travel-related headaches by drinking plenty of water and refraining from caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
9. You may get swollen feet (or worse!)
When you sit for hours without any breaks to stretch your legs or take a walk, your blood flow could be easily affected, thus resulting in swollen feet and ankles. In worse cases, some passengers may even be at risk of developing a blood clot known as deep vein thrombosis, which happens because of poor blood circulation in the body.
Sitting in a cramped space for hours can compress the veins in your legs and cause their blood flow to slow down.
So what can you do to prevent these terrible issues? While you might think that you should just leave your seat and take a short walk every now and then, it’s actually a bad idea because it can be very risky in case of sudden turbulence, or cause traffic jams and chaos if too many passengers decided to stretch their legs at the same time.
Experts recommend doing some simple movements while sitting, like extension, flexion, and rotation every 15 minutes.
This will work for passengers who don’t have any health issues or risks. As for those who are at risk of deep vein thrombosis (those who are obese, pregnant, older than forty, having serious or chronic diseases, or currently on birth control pills), they should consider using compression stockings or even anticoagulant drugs if necessary.
8. You may suffer from dehydration
The air that passengers inhale on a plane can be very dry because it comes from outside of the aircraft, which is flying at an immense altitude. This means that breathing in the air found in the plane cabin can make your body dehydrated, leading to fatigue later on.
If you want to prevent these unpleasant sensations, it’s best to drink plenty of water. Ideally, you should start frequently sipping water before you get on the plane, then continue sipping until you reach your destination.
7. You may be farting more than usual
In fact, the gas in your body can expand up to twenty-five percent because of pressure. According to physics, as the airplane climbs higher in the sky, the external pressure gets decreased and the gas found in human bodies expands oppositely to pressure. That’s how you get bloated and feel the urge to fart among your fellow travelers.
While holding gas in is a really bad idea, you should just let it out. Although it would be so much better if you can get to the bathroom first.
6. Your ears can start popping
The air pressure changes can also affect your ears, causing a temporary pressure sensation until your ears naturally pop back to normal. Although this isn’t a serious issue, many people may find it annoying.
To avoid popping ears, you can just put a piece of chewing gum in your mouth. If you forget to bring it, you can try yawning or swallowing.
5. You may lose your sense of taste
Unlike popular belief, airplane food isn’t tasteless, it’s actually the passengers who temporarily lose their sense of taste because of mouth and nose dryness caused by the low-humidity air inside the aircraft.
According to some studies, the flyers’ ability to taste food can be affected by the reduced pressure during the flight and even by the plane engines’ background noise as well.
Luckily, you can get your sense of taste back by drinking water and preventing a dry mouth.
4. You might get a toothache
Unfortunately, flyers may get tooth pain because of the pressure changes during a flight. This happens due to the gas that gets stuck in tooth-adjacent sinuses, cavities, and fillings.
The good news is that flight-related toothaches aren’t common, but the bad news is that there isn’t much to do to prevent them from happening. However, you may take painkillers to get some relief.
3. Your skin may become dry
Airplane air can cause dry skin and cracked lips. But you can easily avoid these issues by staying well-hydrated and applying moisturizing creams or lotions both before and during your flight.
Once you get to your destination, wash and exfoliate your face to remove dead cells caused by dryness and prevent acne or other skin problems that may follow.
2. Your breath may get stinky
A dry mouth can promote bacteria growth that eventually leads to bad breath, which can get worse if you aren’t drinking enough water, haven’t eaten anything, or have forgotten to brush your teeth before heading to the airport.
You can easily prevent bad breath by brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, and drinking plenty of water.
Keep in mind that fast food and sugary beverages are only going to make your bad breath more stinky.
1. Your internal clock may go off
A flyer’s internal clock can easily get messed up after traveling long distances or switching time zones. This is the direct cause of jet lag.
Our internal clock is really important since it has a lot to do with the proper function of our bodies, so to prevent jet lag like a pro, you should avoid putting too much effort in adapting to a new time zone and rather focus on getting more sun exposure and outdoor physical activity.
To stay healthy during a flight, make sure to follow the previously-mentioned tips and remember to wash your hands frequently, avoid direct contact with cabin surfaces, keep your hands away from your face, and pray that no one will sneeze or cough into your personal space.
Safe travels, everyone! Please, be kind enough to leave a comment or share this article with people you know.