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Air Travel Side Effects: What Really Happens to Your Body When You Fly

For most people, flying on a commercial airliner can be an exciting, enjoyable and a fascinating event. Yet, for others, it brings out the worst in people.  Air travel should never represent an ongoing opportunity for someone to whine, grumble, criticize and complain to anyone who will listen!

We’ve all experienced that disgruntled individual that strongly dislikes sitting on the runway before takeoff.  Or the gentleman that can’t get his suitcase in the overhead bin because it’s just too big.

You’re either a frequent flyer, a businessman/woman, a mother of a young child, an older adult, a teen traveling alone or just someone who travels for fun. You’ve been given the opportunity to FLY!… to a destination of your choosing… at a time that is convenient to you… in a chair… in the air!!!

What’s there to complain about? Well, there might be several things, out of your control, that are simply unacceptable.  Unfortunately, much of this inconvenience comes from poor airline management, but there are also other factors of which you should be aware.

Here are 8 factors that may affect you personally.

1. People Will Get Emotional

Air travel is not for everyone. There are those individuals that, through no fault of their own, are required to travel. It may be to a funeral, required business travel or a host of other life situations. Unfortunately, some passengers may try to self-medicate in order to get through the ordeal. Other passengers need to be aware of such individuals and leave these folks alone.

2. There’s A Good Chance You’ll Lose Your Sense of Taste

You’re seated in a cabin that has been pressurized to 75% of the normal atmospheric pressure. The higher the altitude, the more this dryness and cabin air pressure will affect your ears and sinuses. Your sense of smell will diminish and your taste buds will become numb. It can literally suck all the flavor out of your food.

3. Your Body Will Experience Dehydration

The air you breathe inside a plane is being pulled from the engines and transferred to a compressor which cools it down and then gets pumped into the cabin. Along with the dry, re-circulated air, low humidity levels will cause you to lose moisture from your skin.  It’s estimated that your body could be deprived of up to 1.5 liters of water on a 3 hour flight.

4. Low Oxygen Levels Will Make You Fatigued

Traveling at high altitudes causes less oxygen to be absorbed into your blood stream. Even though the cabin pressure is at a level to prevent altitude sickness, it still opens the possibility of you getting sleepy or dizzy.

5. Intestinal Considerations

The gas inside your intestinal track will expand as the cabin pressure drops.  The end result is that you might experience bloating, swelling, constipation and pain.

6. Blood Clotting In Your Feet

Being stuck in a cramped seat with minimal leg room for long periods of time can affect the flow of blood throughout your body. The lack of movement will cause the veins in your legs to compress and the blood flow will slow down, which can run the risk of a blood clot called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

7. Cosmic Radiation Exposure

Keeping the window shade closed won’t block the harmful UV rays which become more powerful at higher altitudes. It is estimated that a 7 hour flight is equivalent to the same amount of exposure to radiation you would get from an X-ray. This level of radiation might not cause people any long-term issues, but should be acknowledged for frequent flyers due to the cellular changes the body will experience.

8. You May Actually Get Sick

A person is 100 times more likely to catch a cold, respiratory infection or virus being cramped into a contained space with fellow passengers who might be already sick. A coughing passenger could increase the vulnerability to spreading an airborne infection.

But thanks to HEPA filters that are being used on every aircraft, and the air being refreshed every two to three minutes, the filters and circulation patterns minimize the risk significantly.

However, you are still likely to come in contact with a smorgasbord of germs that live on cabin surfaces. Typically, the seats, tray tables, seat pockets, window shades, arm rests and aircraft toilets are supposed to be thoroughly cleaned after each and every flight.  Sadly, bacteria can survive for up to a week if not cleaned properly.

Simple Tips For Remaining Healthy When Flying

For anyone who travels, there are ways to diminish these air travel side effects.

TIP: The minute you pass through security, purchase a bottle of water to take on the plane with you. Sometimes drinking water can become contaminated when it is refilled at foreign airports with poor water standards. Stick with bottled water to assure your safety.

TIP: Travel with disinfectant wipes and use them to clean off your tray table before eating. If you must use the toilet, use a wipe to close the lid before flushing and to open and close the door handle.

TIP: Avoid the airplane pillows and blankets. If you are apprehensive about catching any germs, bring along a number of layers of clothing and remove them if the cabin gets too warm.

TIP: If possible get up and move about the cabin. You can also rotate, extend and flex your ankles while seated to keep the blood flow circulating in your body.

All of the suggestions mentioned here are easily doable. It’s always best to understand your options and do the things you feel will always be best for you.

©2017 All Rights Reserved IBIS Airlines

IBIS Airlines is a privately held national airline company based on a disruptive business model that will fly large aircraft, offer the flying public deeply discounted fares, make quality customer service top priority and operate several unique revenue centers that ensure continued low fares for an underserved population of fliers. For questions or comments,  click here.

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