By Dr. Deepthi Rao Gorukanti, General Physician
Flying seriously messes up your body. But it is not only the bad hair and jetlag, there are other subtle damages that we hardly notice. Thankfully, these damages are not completely irreversible. You can do something about them.
- Dehydration: The interior of an aircraft is dry. The longer the flight, the more is the level of dehydration. A pint of water must be drunk every three hours. However, do not drink coffee, tea or alcohol. They just dehydrate your body more. To counter dehydration, drink plenty of water. You can also carry a facial mist if your skin feels dry. Reapply lotion if your skin feels dry repeatedly.
- Pollution: There is a severe lack of clean air inside the flight. The air is sometimes recycled to save fuel. Also, some airlines spray antibacterial or antiviral sprays to purify the air, but these are harmful to asthmatic patients.
- Bedbugs and lice: Airline headrests and blankets are not cleaned regularly. This becomes a breeding ground for lice and bedbugs. To counter this, you can spray tea tree oil or peppermint oil on the seats. And the best way is to carry along your own blanket always.
- Cancer risk: At a height, the sun rays are more radioactive. So people who travel a lot (and airhostesses and stewards) are more exposed to cosmic radiation. The air is thinner, providing little protection. Breast cancer and malignant melanoma affects people more at higher altitudes. The only way to counter this is to fly a little less perhaps.
- Deep vein thrombosis: At high pressure, the softer tissues in the lower leg accumulate fluids that the veins force into from the circulation. This leads to swelling. It increases the chance of forming blood clots. The best way to counter this is to walk. Get up from your seat and walk the aisle if you want to.
- Loss of hearing and taste: Your taste buds go numb and your ears feel blocked. Cabin pressure and dryness affects your taste buds, sinus and ears. To counter this, go for food that is rich in umami (fifth basic taste beside sweet, sour, salty and bitter).
- Bloating: Expanded gas from intestines get stuck everywhere in your body. The best way to counter this to expel as much gas as you can either through swallowing or through yawning.