Five health risks of flying

When flying for the first time, one of the most common fears is the plane crashing. Of course this is scary but after flying a few times and understanding the risks of crashing, people normally relax a bit more and understand that the risk of crashing is pretty low.

However, that does not mean that flying is healthy when your plane safely arrives. Here are some common risks to your body when flying on airplane.

1. Severe Dehydration:

Air on airplanes is pretty dry. Most airlines have beverage trays that come through during the flight. Make sure to get water. Stay hydrated and drink around a pint of H2O every 3 hours. Try to refrain from coffee, tea, alcohol. If you do consume these drinks, make sure you are drinking water as well. Dehydration can cause headaches and can stress your body making you more susceptible to the colds and viruses.

2. Lung Damage from Breathing in Polluted Air:

How does this happen if you are in a plane with no open windows? Fumes from the engine do manage to seep into the plane but airlines state that when the plane is flying there is an air filtering system that flushes out the fumes but the data on this doesn’t yet prove this to be true. Keeping the fan on overhead can help blow this around but when you are in an enclosed space it is going to circulate around and end up coming back your way. The time you are most at risk for fumes is when the plane is not taking off and idling waiting for the air traffic controllers okay to take off.

3. Lice and Bedbugs:

Planes are normally pretty cool in temperature and blankets and pillows are commonly provided on long flights. If it is a connecting flight, blankets and pillows are not new or cleaned. This means you can be exposed to lice or bugs.

Each individual plane can fly between two to eight trips per day, depending on the size of the aircraft and distance of travel. A plane can take 4-16 flights in two days. Dozens of people may have sat in the seat you are in and lice can live up to 2 days without food. I have personally never had a lice or bed bug issue when flying but it could happen.

Bring your own pillow or blanket on carry on. It can help. Also Tea Tree oil is a great tool because bugs don’t like it and it can keep them at bay.

4. Increased Cancer Risk: Studies have shown that female flight attendants are 5x more likely to contract breast cancer and other crew members are at a higher risk of melanomas.

Long flights stress out the internal body clock. When this happens hormone levels change and can create an imbalance putting them at risk of tumor growth. Also, flying at high altitudes has thinner air and passengers and faculty are exposed to radiation that is 100 to 300 times higher then on the ground.

5. Deep Vein Thrombosis:

This problem is common with the obese and elderly but the changing of air pressure effects We all know this condition, also known as DVT, can affect the obese and the elderly. But the changes in air pressure do effect the normal circulation of the blood from the legs back to the heart and lungs.

Changes in air pressure can effect the blood in the veins and force fluid out of the circulation and into the soft tissue of the lower legs. This can lead to swelling and begin to form clots. Studies have shown that during a simulated transatlantic flight, as much as four kilograms of fluid can shift from the circulation to the legs.

When on flights, get up and move around. Stretch your legs and low back. You may even want to bring some type of heat or topical ointment to improve circulation. Turmeric, Coconut oil, Cayenne pepper, massage or rubbing of legs all keep your circulation moving.

Make sure you are taking care of yourself when flying, your trip will go more smoothly and you will come back home happy and healthy!

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Dehydration Signs And Symptoms

Dehydration happens when we excrete more fluids than we take in.  We lose fluids by sweating, urinating, defecating, vomiting.

Most of the time dehydration happens because of diarrhea, vomiting, flu/fever. but it also happens because people do not drink enough water.   It is recommended to drink approximately 8 ounces of fluid before any exercise.   Not drinking water before a workout and after can produce dehydration and also create a headache.  If you can drink half your body weight in ounces.  I know this can be hard so start with 8 ounces and work your way up.

It can happen to anyone at any age, but older adults and individuals with illnesses are more at risk.  Anyone may become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk.   Always make sure you drink at least 8 ounces of water per day and if you are athletic or ill, add another 8 ounces or more.

What are the symptoms of Dehydration:

  1. Dry mouth
  2. Fatigue
  3. Thirst
  4. Yellow urine (also decreased frequency of urination)
  5. Decrease in tear production
  6. Weakness of musculature
  7. Headaches
  8. Dizziness/vertigo

For individuals experiencing severe dehydration, these are some of the symptoms: (this can become a medical emergency)

  1. Extreme thirst
  2. Irritability and confusion
  3. Extreme dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  4. No sweating
  5. Very little urination
  6. Eyes are sunken
  7. Skin that does not bounce back when pinched/pulled lightly
  8. Low blood pressure
  9. Rapid heartbeat
  10. Fever
  11. Delirious behavior
  12. Unconsciousness
  13. In infants, sunken fontanels (baby “soft spot”)

(See a medical doctor if symptoms are severe, if you vomit for more than 8 hours or have severe diarrhea for more than 3 days)

*Always add electrolytes (sodium, potassium and calcium) to water if vomiting or having extreme diarrhea.

Water has zero calories and is essential to human function.  An average adult sweats, breathes and secretes up to 2.5 liters of water a day.  This needs to be replenished in order to transport and absorb nutrients.  Soda has tons of sugar added (or aspartame if diet) which is not good for the body.  Water, unless highly tampered with has the best health benefit.

In most cases, simply adding fluids and electrolytes will slowly bring energy and nutrients to the surface.  If you body is not responding, then it may be necessary to see a medical doctor for further testing.