19 May 2011

THE EFFECTS OF FLYING ON THE BODY

Well it's that time of year when we are all thinking about flying off somewhere for a well deserved holiday, I thought I would do a post about the effects of flying and give you a few tips on how to take care of yourself during a flight.

As some of you know I worked as cabin crew for the 'world's favourite airline' for 5 years and during that time I got to know first hand the effects that flying can have on the body, I also picked up loads of tips for taking care of yourself and I thought I would share some of them with you today.

Firstly a bit of scientific research and some facts and figures.

Us mere mortals find a humidity rate of 50% most comfortable, but even 25% is tolerable in places such as The Sahara, humidity in flight drops to 10% or less.  The physiological effects of such low humidity are rapid dehydration, dry skin, dry eyes and the rest of the body reacts to the lack of moisture by adjusting it's biochemical levels, which can throw your entire system out of sync.  Our body consists of over 50% water, so when we lose that water every organ in the body will be affected.

Low pressure in the cabin causes the Nitrogen Gas in our body to expand, this is what causes your ankles and joints to swell.

The air that you breathe during a flight is the air that is outside your window, although the air is modified before being pumped into the cabin.  Whatever pollutants or ozone levels exist out there are pumped inside for all to inhale.  This is mainly what causes fatigue, light headedness, lack of concentration etc.

Others factors that can have an effect on the body whilst flying are cosmic radiation and magnetic fields, although this risk factor mainly affects cabin/flight crew.

So, the most important thing you can do for your body whilst flying is keep yourself well hydrated, if you think that during a 3 hour flight your body can lose up to 1.5 litres of water, then you can do the maths on how much water to drink by the length of your flight.  Use saline eye drops during the flight to prevent dry eyes and use a saline nasal spray too.   (I will do a separate post in the near future on tips for looking after your facial skin during a flight).  I know that for most people the holiday starts at the airport but do try and limit the amount of alcohol you drink until you arrive at your destination.  Alcohol, tea and coffee will dehydrate you even more.

An aircraft is a very unhygienic vessel, it is the perfect breeding ground for germs and that is why most people either arrive or return from holiday with some sort of bug.  Prior to you boarding your flight cleaners will have been on board and emptied the bins, replenished the stock in the toilets and run round with the hoover.   Aircraft are not deep cleaned after every flight.  Can you imagine the amount of germs on an aircraft?  Everything you touch on an aircraft will have been touched by thousands of people before you, so you need to be scrupulous about hygiene, it's a bit like putting your hand on the handrail of an escalator on the London Underground and then putting your hand in your mouth, now you'd never do that would you, so apply the same rules on an aircraft.  Use an Anti-bacterial hand wash as often as you can, use Anti-bacterial tissues, apply a balm to your nostrils, this may help to trap any bacteria that are in the air, if travelling with a baby take sachets of Milton to clean the baby changing area in the bathroom, use Milton to clean any items dropped by children.  I know that this can seem a bit OCD but believe me public toilets are cleaner than an aircraft.

I hope you have found this post useful, I could've rambled on for hours.  If you have any questions regarding this post then please leave me a comment.