There are several factors in a plane trip that can leave us on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In addition to the stress of schedules, airport queues, waiting times and delays; There are also minor health problems that may arise on board.
The cabin environment of the aeroplane is drastically different in terms of humidity and pressure, as well as the movements and vibrations felt during the flight that can cause our body to resent.
However, there are a few tricks you can use to make your next trip more comfortable, quiet and safe.
During flights, especially long trips, you may experience some symptoms related to pressure differences due to high altitudes. Breathing difficulty, headaches, sleep disturbances, nausea and tiredness are the most common symptoms and are related to decreased oxygen uptake by the body due to increased altitude.
However, it is important to demystify the relationship of pressure difference to altitude. Although on an intercontinental flight we are at approximately 11,000m altitude, the pressurization of an aircraft cabin is compensated to match the top of Serra da Estrela (1,800m) or to the top of Pico Island (2,400m).
If you experience any of the symptoms described above, try opening the air vent at the top of each seat to increase air circulation. If you have breathing problems, you should travel with your usual medication in your handbag if you need to take it during the flight.
There are also differences in humidity: if on the one hand, it fluctuates slightly below 30%, inside the cabin of an aeroplane is usually less than 20%.
The decrease in humidity during flight is reflected in mucosal dryness, making the development of viral and bacteriological infections more susceptible. If possible, bring your water bottle and try to adjust its consumption to approximately 1L every 4h of flight. Consumption of piped water is strongly advised as it may contain antifreeze and bacteriological contamination present in aircraft tanks.
Before and during the flight, you should avoid consuming dehydrated drinks and foods. For example, caffeinated beverages (teas, coffees and sodas), alcoholic beverages and salt-rich foods.
Gases expand between 20% and 30% as altitude increases and the associated pressure drop, so the feeling of bloating and discomfort at the intestinal level is normal. To alleviate these symptoms, it is recommended to avoid eating foods that increase gas production in the digestive system before and during flight. Such as pulses, collard greens, broccoli, onion and of course, carbonated drinks.
Germs and Bacteria
The vast majority of aircraft cabin surfaces are not regularly cleaned and disinfected, accumulating bacteria and microorganisms due to contact with hundreds of passengers. If possible, wipe the surfaces you come in contact with, use a paper towel to handle bathroom doors as well as toilet tops and wash your hands frequently.
Deep vein thrombosis
Lack of movement and consequent lack of lower limb muscle contraction increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis. Because blood flow is stimulated by muscle activation, the absence of movement (when you spend too much time sitting) can increase fluid retention at the lower limbs, causing stiffness and discomfort.
Try to increase activity at least once an hour. Walk and do some exercises, prioritizing lower limb exercises. Wear comfortable clothing for travel, avoiding tight clothing that may hinder blood circulation.
This advice is crucial for overweight passengers with heart disease, post-surgery, pregnant women, smokers or contraceptive users.
If you often get sick with normal flight swings: avoid travelling in the back of the plane, choose a seat in the centre of the cabin or by the window. If you get sick, ask for some sparkling water and eat some saltine crackers.
Ginger based products (infusions, dehydrated or candied ginger) can be used to prevent motion sickness. Again, avoid alcohol as it can make the sickness worse and trigger dizziness.
See also : Jet Lag
Pressure fluctuations can cause ear, toothache, or sinus pain. You should be especially careful if you have a stuffy nose or a sore throat. To equalize the pressure during the descent you can chew gum, eat candy, drink water in large gulps, swallow saliva or yawn repeatedly. You can also beware and 30 minutes before the descent begins (approximately one hour before landing) use a nasal decongestant.
In case of pain or clogging of the ears, you can resort to the Valsalva manoeuvre, which consists of covering the nasal passages with the fingers and exhaling gently with the mouth closed. Although not completely contraindicated this manoeuvre should be performed with little force and in isolation. , since when performed with high intensity and repeatedly there may be a risk of tympanic perforation.
You can follow tips from Ana Lucas Rebelo, flight attendant and nutritionist, here.