How To Stay Healthy During Air Travel
Traveling via the friendly skies soon? These tips from Douglas Linz MD, Medical Director of TriHealth Corporate Health, can keep you in optimal health even at 32,000 feet
Stave Off Sinus Issues: Airplanes often have relatively low humidity and air pressure, which can cause sinus issues, provoke allergies or cause issues with “ear popping.”
Dr. Linz recommends using Afrin nasal spray. “There’s a generic variety that people can get over the counter,” Dr. Linz says. “There’s also a non-drying formula that has the same effective ingredient, but it doesn’t feel like you’ve just walked into a desert.”
For people who have problems with bloody noses, he recommends putting a light coat of Vaseline on the interior of the nostril to keep that area of the nose lubricated.
Exercise: “I think the best recommendation has to do with exercise, and that is to make sure you’re getting regular – hopefully, daily – exercise,” Dr. Linz says. “I recommend brief periods of high-intensity exercise for 12 to 14 minutes.”
This can mean taking advantage of your hotel’s fitness center, walking or jogging in a safe area of town, or packing portable exercise equipment. “There are exercise bands available that are lightweight and don’t take up a lot of luggage,” he adds.
Not only does exercise stave off unwanted pounds, it helps people deal with jet lag, maintain a proper sleep cycle and handle stressful situations.
“Exercise creates a psychological hardiness,” he points out. “People who exercise regularly avoid the emotional reactivity when things are not going well. They’re much more effective in getting to problem resolution.”
Control Portions: Paying attention to portion sizes is another way to thwart weight gain while traveling.
Dr. Linz recommends centering each meal – especially late evening meals – on fruits and veggies, and adding carbohydrates to that, “almost like a topping on a salad.”
He also suggests using the “fork method” for salads or foods with heavy creams. This means having the dressing served on the side and dipping your fork into the dressing before each bite. “It makes the difference of about 200 calories per meal,” Dr. Linz says.
Get Immunizations: If you are traveling to another country, it is important to research the local healthcare so you can get the proper immunizations beforehand or know where to go if you need medical help.
“Be aware of the risks, with regard to infections that may be present in certain areas of the world . . . and prep yourself through information, and – if necessary immunizations and medications,” Dr. Linz explains.
Avoid Blood Clots: Those who travel by air for eight hours or more are at a significant risk for blood clots.
“The cabin pressure is not pressurized for sea level, and we slowly lose fluid out of our blood vessels after hours of flying at 10,000 feet,” Dr. Linz explains.
He suggests wearing compression hose that have been specifically fitted to increase blood flow, which reduces the risk for blood clots in the legs, and therefore, blood clots going to the lungs.