NETfacts: Self-care

Self-Care Tips for Air Travel

Traveling on a plane can essentially set the tone for your whole trip! Here are some tips to help prevent sickness and discomfort when flying:

Take multi-vitamins

Boost your immune system with a daily multivitamin a couple days before your trip. This will help avoid any germs circulating on the plane.

Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Take an acetylsalicylic acid tablet the day before a long flight, the day of the flight, and for three days afterward. When you sit without moving around for long hours, the blood pools in the legs. That could lead to a blood clot, and if that blood clot travels to an organ, it could be deadly. What acetylsalicylic acid doesis thins the blood, making clots less likely. When the captain says it’s safe to move around the cabin, then, do! If you’re on a very long flight, do so more often. Compression stockings or socks can also help prevent clots.

Avoid Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, although not unique to air travel, will make your trip miserable. Some people are more sensitive to it than others and can take preventative measures even before the flight. Choose seats in the middle of the plane, where movement is less pronounced. Consult your physician about over-the-counter and prescription medications that help prevent motion sickness.

Hydrate and Refuel

Bring a bottle of water and a bag of healthy snacks in your carry-on bag even for what should be a short flight. Not only do fewer airlines serve food these days, but unexpected delays can send your blood sugar plummeting. Also, skip the alcohol and caffeine during the flight. The air in the plane is dry enough; alcoholic and caffeinated beverages just dehydrate you even more.

Conditions related to cabin air and pressure

The dry, recycled cabin air irritates mucous membranes and causes painful sinus-cavity pressure to build. This is a huge annoyance, particularly to people with colds and sinus infections. Keep your nasal passages and ears clear by taking a decongestant as directed 24 hours before your flight. This will shrink the membranes in your sinuses and ears. Finally, that extreme pressure and popping in your ears during ascent and descent is related to both the change in pressure and air movement for equalization in the ear structures. Chewing gum, yawning and moving your lower jaw forward allow the movement of air to take place and avoid sinus “squeeze” and will equalize the pressure in your middle ear. 

Be Comfortable

Dressing in layers is always a good idea, especially since planes are often cold. Avoid removing your shoes during the flight. Removing shoes can result in swollen feet due to the low air pressure in the cabin, and will be uncomfortable when you put them back on. Bringing some sleeping aids is always a good idea (inflatable pillow, eye mask, ear phones, etc)

Happy travels!