Health and Comfort While Flying
Aircrafts are often the first and last locations of an exciting adventure; however, the increased pressure and decreased humidity can cause discomfort. We recommend several things you can do and bring onboard to increase your comfort in the air.
While in the air, the pressure around you is significantly decreased. Aircrafts normally regulate their pressure to around 7,000 ft. This is the equivalent of sitting on a mountaintop for several hours at a time. Long, easy, deep breaths can reduce feelings of lightheadedness associated with the high altitude.
The changes in pressure may cause a common sensation of “popping” in your ears. Chewing gum, sucking on hard candies, or yawning can relieve some of the pressure. If you find you have serious discomfort, air-pressure-regulating ear plugs are available over the counter at most pharmacies.
Humidity and Dehydration
The dry air in the cabin may cause you to feel dehydrated, or to experience headaches or dry eyes. To ensure you have a comfortable flight, we suggest carrying on the following items:
- Nasal saline
- Contact solution and/or eye drops
- Empty water bottle (This may be taken through security without being confiscated)
In Canada, any liquids you carry on must be travel sized, less than 100 ml for each container, and placed into a clear plastic bag. Make sure you check airport security guidelines if you plan on bringing any liquids with you on board.
Once you’re in flight, drink plenty of water or low-sugar juices. Skip out on tempting caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, which dehydrate the body faster.
Especially in economy seating, long flights can be cramping and constricting on your body. Try occasionally standing, stretching out, and walking around the cabin briefly while you’re flying.
A useful purchase prior to flying is a pair of compression stockings or pants. These pieces of clothing keep your blood circulating properly, and prevent blood from pooling in the lower limbs. This can cause swelling of the feet and lower legs. For this reason, it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes while flying.
In some instances, your physician may prescribe a low-dose Aspirin to be taken before, during, and after the flight. This was suggested by the Aviation Health Institute, to thin the blood and allow for easier circulation. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking any medications in conjunction with flying.
The night before departing, as well as in the days leading up to your trip, be sure to get plenty of rest. If you do plan on getting some additional sleep during your flight, we recommend bringing the following items on board:
- Inflatable neck pillow
- Noise-cancelling earplugs or audio players
- Sleep mask
If you are planning to take any sleep aids, even natural substances such as melatonin, be sure to test it out in advance of your trip. If you have an adverse reaction, it is best to contact your physician.