6 Ways Flying Stresses Your Body
Flying is so commonplace, most of us hop on a plane with no thought as to our health and safety. And while planes are incredibly safe modes of transport, these unique environments put our bodies under a whole host of stresses and strains we don’t face anywhere else.
You lose your sense of taste
It is easy to put any unusual quality of airline food down to the fact that it is being prepared on a plane, not your nice home kitchen. But even the luxury kitchens of a first class Qatar Airways flight will be affected by the air cabin atmosphere.
“Food and drink really do taste different in the air compared to on the ground,” explains Oxford University’s Charles Spense. “There are several reasons for this: lack of humidity, lower air pressure, and the background noise.”
You are exposed to cosmic radiation
When on the ground, the Earth’s magnetic field protects us from much harmful radiation. Higher up in the atmosphere, cosmic radiation is not fully absorbed.
This means that flying exposes you to ionising radiation – X and Gamma Rays. The average flight from Chicago to London exposes you to the same amount of radiation as you would face in an average chest X-Ray. For frequent flyers and airline staff, this can add up and caused a very slightly increased risk of health problems. The increased risk is almost negligible, however.
Your blood loses oxygen
Everyone knows that aeroplane cabins are pressurised. But few people know that they are not pressured up to 100% of sea level atmosphere. In fact, they are usually only 75% pressured.
This means that there is 75% less oxygen in the air than usual – roughly the same level as is present at 7000 ft. above sea level. Of course, many large cities exist at this elevation, so this is not dangerous to passengers. Less oxygen in your blood will make you feel tired, lethargic and more likely to sleep. It can also cause dizziness and headaches.
Your internal gasses will expand
Gasses increase in volume when there is less air pressure. This is why gas will boil under 100°C when above sea level. The same applies for the gases trapped in your body. Expanding and contracting internal gases during take-off and landing can cause sinus, ear and joint pain.
You lose water faster than usual
The dry air of aircraft cabins results in your body losing water much quicker than when on the ground. Cabins usually have an atmosphere of less than 20%. To put this into context, the Sahara has a humidity that drops to below 25% at only the driest of times.
The dehydration can cause tiredness, headaches and dizziness. It can be made worse when by passengers not drinking enough water and drinking alcohol and caffeine. Remember to drink more water than usual when on a plane.
Your circulation suffers
Being sat down for so long sees blood pool in your legs. Blood is usually circulated back up your body through the contraction of your leg muscles, which forces the blood up through your veins, back to your heart.
When you don’t walk around for hours, this cannot happen, increasing the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. This is a condition where pooled blood clots, blocking the veins. You can prevent this from happening by walking around the cabin periodically and wearing special socks, which fit tight to the calf, increasing the blood pressure and helping blood circulate back up to your hear.
At Simplexity, our Travel Managers are always looking for new ways to improve our clients’ travel experience, from minimising the stress of flights to finding exciting new hotels and locations to explore.