Ever wondered why you get on a flight feeling alive and well and step off feeling a little worse for wear?
Rest assured – it’s not just you. In fact, there’s a trove of scientific evidence out there that shows that while you may be seated comfortably on a plane for several hours, there’s a lot happening inside your body that is a direct result of you simply being on a plane at a high altitude.
For more information, here’s a list we’ve put together to help you understand these strange occurrences:
1) You Become Dehydrated
During a three-hour flight, the human body can shed up to 1.5 liters of water from your body. As there is such low humidity in a plane (about 4%) it causes the mucous of our nose, mouth, and throat to dry our – depleting your natural h2o levels. Make sure to hydrate before, during, and after the flight to combat this issue.
2) You’ll Start to Bloat
Air pressure can cause a range of gastrointestinal issues such as stomach pains and bloating due to a building up of gas. This is because the air pressure prevents gas from spreading easily through our intestines and causes fluctuations on our bodies. According to Conde Nast Traveler, you hydrating will also help prevent bloating. You should also avoid carbonated drinks and even take a Gas-Ex on the flight.
3) You’re Deprived of Oxygen
Many aircraft cabins are pressurized to 75% of normal atmospheric pressure. This induces lower levels of oxygen in your blood which can lead to hypoxia, which may leave you feeling dizzy with a headache or fatigue. Unfortunately, this problem is a bit more difficult to combat. If this is a severe problem for you, you can request supplemental oxygen from the airline.
4) You’re Surrounded by Germs
You’re 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plan because half of the cabin’s oxygen is recirculated. This airflow makes the conditions for airborne infections such as colds, respiratory infections ad viruses ideal for susceptible passengers as the humidity levels are so low. What’s more is that bacteria can survive up to one week on a plane – that’s a lot of people passing through one cabin and a whole lot of germs! Try taking Airborne or other supplements before the flight to boost your immune system.
5) You Can’t Hear or Taste Very Well
Approximately one-third of your taste buds can become numb when you’re at high altitudes and air pressure changes can affect your hearing. It’s also been found that our perceptions of sweet and saltiness can drop by as much as 30 perfect. Other factors that are said to contribute to this numbing of the senses are colder temperatures, dull cabin lighting, and high-stress levels. This issue is also relatively more difficult to combat – airlines are working on ways to make their food more flavorful, but it is a bit challenging to have your full sense of hearing and taste.
6) You’re Exposed to Cosmic Radiation
During a typical seven-hour flight passengers are exposed to the same amount of radiation as an x-ray. This research came about after fears that ‘solar storms’ could trigger harmful radiation to those traveling in the air. What’s more is that you’re also exposed to stronger UV rays and the windows don’t always provide sufficient protection. While cosmic radiation sounds scary, according to NPR, the risk of severe damage due to flights is low.
7) Blood Will Pool in Your Legs
A lack of movement coupled with the high-pressure leads to fluid build-up in the body giving you have an increased risk of getting deep vein thrombosis. In order to combat this issue, try to walk around the cabin periodically throughout the flight. This will increase blood flow and reduce the chance of blood pooling in your legs.
To help yourself stay safe and healthy during a long-haul flight it’s important that you drink plenty of water and move around the cabin when you can.
Share with anyone going on a long flight!