From Ear Popping to Dehydration: 7 Flying Symptoms to Know
Do you have an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach? Are you experiencing anxiety because it’s your first time flying? Slow down, it’s okay, there’s no need to panic and it is quite normal for newbies to air travel. Even some seasoned flyers find that they can’t escape the pre-flight jitters, or feel stressed out by the hassles associated with flying: baggage checks, layovers, chaotic airports.
There are also quite a few bodily effects that the travel at high altitude can have on you. For those unfamiliar with them, these symptoms can be quite frightening. Like many of the stresses of air travel, these things are normal. From dehydration to ear popping, here is a list of some common symptoms and a few tips for first time flyers to deal with them.
Luckily, you can do a few things to mitigate these effects. It starts with a healthy diet, as do so many things. The better shape you’re in, the better you’ll weather any side effects of air travel. Supplement your healthy diet with vitamins. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing to help promote proper circulation. Finally, you’ll want to do what you’re doing now: learn what kind of symptoms are simply effects of high-altitude travel.
This way you’ll be properly prepared for your next flight. It starts with understanding exactly what is going to happen to your body during the flight, and how best to mitigate those symptoms.
Are you scared?
There’s no need to be, with this guide to 7 common symptoms of flight. Knowledge is the best weapon against anxiety. Take the anxiety out of your next air travel experience with these helpful tips for first time flyers.
Poor Circulation: What it is and how to prevent it
When you are stuck sitting for a long time, like during extended flights, you become susceptible to poor circulation. Your blood starts to pool in your lower legs, especially in the ankles and feet. The most serious cases can even lead to blood clots, which are painful and quite alarming when you’re several miles above the ground!
Signs of poor circulation include feeling like your ankles and feet are swollen. This causes discomfort that can lead to increased anxiety. However, there are a few things you can do to help ensure you are getting proper blood flow. You can use items like compression socks to help promote proper circulation.
Comfortable clothing is important. Avoid articles that are too tight, like jeans and extremely tight shirts. These can restrict blood vessels and cause poor circulation, as well as chafing or other discomforts.
Be sure to make use of the aisles. From time to time, just get up and do one lap up and down the. This will help in making sure you have good blood flow to keep your legs and feet from cramping and suffering from poor circulation on long flights.
Once You Pop: Popping ears is only the beginning
Even if you are a novice at high altitude travel then you’re probably familiar with bursting or popping ears. This happens even when driving, as you may have experienced during a road trip where you went up in elevation.
When you are increasing altitudes and the air pressure changes, so does the ear pressure. That peculiar sensation of popping ears is a symptom of these air pressure changes, and while it’s certainly uncomfortable, it’s also completely natural and common. Sometimes, different methods can help relieve the pressure, but always be careful. Yawning helps some people experience that pop which signifies a sudden relief of the pressure build-up. Chewing gum and blowing your nose can also help relieve the pressure, but not always (and blowing your nose requires some consideration for your neighbors!).
Special ear plugs designed specifically for air pressure changes are also available. Some of these are designed and tested by Navy pilots, so be sure to pick up the right ones to alleviate your ear pressure woes.
Seasickness at 30,000 Feet: Man overboard!
Motion sickness is never fun. Whether on a boat, in a rattling car, or in flight, it can strike you at any time. Motion sickness can cause you to experience exhaustion, dizziness, nausea, even cause your head to spin. This caused by the pressure you are under when flying.
Doctors explain it by saying that your eyes do not detect any movement and this is all felt by your ears; the disconnect makes you feel like your head is spinning. An hour before boarding you can take an anti-nausea pill, or you can try for things like a more homeopathic remedy like a drug-free nausea relief wrist band.
My Kingdom for a Glass of Water: Dehydration and Dry Skin
It’s been said that high-altitude travel can cause your skin to lose water. This dehydration leads to itchiness, fatigue, and can make your lips embarrassingly chapped. The dry air in the plane cabin can also dry out your skin, causing the irritation and afflicting you with headaches.
Dehydration is one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of plane travel, but also among the easiest to combat. Ensure you are properly hydrated by drinking lots of water. While you don’t want to have to make frequent trips to the bathroom, that may be preferable to the effects of dehydration.
If you properly manage your water intake you should be fine. Just make sure you drink before you’re dehydrated to avoid problems.
Another way to help combat this skin-drying effect is to carry a small bottle of natural skin moisturizer or lotion. Also, keep some chapstick on hand to prevent chapped lips. You should avoid coffee and alcohol, as these drinks can cause dehydration and heighten any unpleasant effects you were already feeling.
Also, try to avoid foods high in sodium during the flight. The salt will dehydrate you, and while the salty snacks may taste good, the end result is feeling worse overall. Try to eat foods that are high in vitamins and antioxidants.
Pressurized Tanning Bed: Can I get a suntan?
Believe it or not, you can get sunburned on a plane. The atmosphere is thinner at such high altitudes, exposing you to higher levels of solar radiation. While a window seat may seem ideal, keep in mind that it may leave you a little more exposed to sunburn if you’re spending hours directly in the glare. Even a sunburn on half your body hurts!
To combat this issue, you can opt to schedule your flights at night, or be sure to use lots of sunscreen. If the window has a shade, you may consider pulling it down until the sun lowers, but if that doesn’t work, you can also cover your arms with a light shirt or towel from a carry-on bag.
Airborne Bugs: Risk of picking up germs from sick passengers
Airplanes are among the worst environments for sick people. If you aren’t careful, you could find yourself sniffling before you realize it, and then it’s too late to avoid getting sick.
A plane cabin is a breeding ground for bugs and bacteria. There are many surfaces, all touches or breathed or coughed upon by passengers, which poses a hazard for everyone else aboard. Worse still, because planes can travel internationally, some of these illnesses waiting to happen can also come from all over the world. Toilets, handles, arm seats, trays, back seat pockets, earphones, magazines, pillows, and aircraft blankets are some of the many objects that might harbor unfriendly bugs.
There are a few things you can do to help reduce your risk of catching a cold or worse while on a flight. People sitting by the window are less likely to get sick than those sitting on the aisle (where there is more traffic), but your best defense has less to do with location and more to do with preparation.
Keep your hand sanitizers with you. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, certainly every time you go to the restroom, and if possible, whenever you have to touch a surface or, for whatever reason, another passenger.
Try to use a paper towel or tissues to turn faucets off after washing your hands, and to touch the door handles. Always be sure to take your own blankets and pillows with you.
Breathing Thin Air: Keep your breathing calm and steady
It’s true that as you climb in altitude, the air gets very thin. For those who already have oxygen deficiencies, this could cause complications. You might feel sick, dizzy, and disoriented.
Those sensations could easily ruin a flight, even if they aren’t life-threatening. To top it off, anxiety can cause or heighten these symptoms, putting you in a vicious cycle of self-reinforcing anxiety.
Not to worry! There are everyday vitamins and oxygen-rich supplements that can help keep your body properly oxygenated. If you aren’t a yoga fan yet, now might be the time to watch a few videos on proper yoga breathing techniques. Keep your breath slow and steady.
Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth, swelling your belly with each breath.
Relax with These Travel tips
We hope that we’ve helped you prepare a little better for your next flight. Knowing what common discomforts can occur, and how to treat their symptoms, can help take a lot of the stress out of flying. Knowing what you’re up against is always the key to overcoming it, so follow these tips for first-time flyers and before you know it, you’ll be arriving safely—and calmly—at your destination.