Regardless of whether you’re a frequent flier or take that occasional flight, there are ways to ensure that you enjoy a safe and healthy journey.
1. Keep your dives and flights apart
If you had a scuba diving session 24 to 48 hours before taking the plane, be careful about the risk of decompression sickness. This is usually caused by a rapid decrease in the air or water pressure around you, and can occur when a rapid climb in altitude would result in a drop in pressure akin to a rapid ascent to the surface during a dive. Check with your instructor when it will be safe to fly.
2. Look after your sinuses
It’s not advisable to fly if you have an ear, nose or sinus infection, as the swelling can cause pain, bleeding or a perforated eardrum. If you really have to take the plane, ask your GP or pharmacist about decongestants to help reduce the swelling.
3. Stay hydrated
Airplane air is particularly dry, so drink plenty of water, and wear glasses rather than contact lenses to avoid irritating your eyes. If you’re particularly sensitive to the effects of dryness, you might like to bring lip balm and travel-sized eye drops (or saline nasal gel) for extra comfort.
4. Know how to keep airsickness at bay
Try to choose a seat where you will experience the least motion. (Tip: The middle of an airplane, over the wing, is the calmest area!) Some people believe in the effectiveness of a motion-sickness wristband (that you can get at your local pharmacy) to better balance the flow of energy in the body and combat nausea. You can also suck or chew on soft candy to release pressure on both your ears and your head.
5. Keep your circulation going
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition where a period of inactivity leads to blood clots developing, most often within the deep veins of the legs, and causes pain and swelling. Risk increases with age and is exacerbated by factors such as obesity or smoking. To keep a healthy blood flow, do exercises such as drawing small circles with your ankles, stretching your toes, or doing shoulder and neck rolls. Do try to get up and walk around the cabin every couple of hours if you can.
6. Stay safe from the sun
A study from JAMA Dermatology found that the overall incidence rate of melanoma for flight-based occupations was twice the incidence of melanoma compared with the general population. Indeed, being in a plane means you’re 30,000 feet closer to the sun, and most windows are not designed to block UVA rays. An occasional traveller might not need to worry as much but frequent fliers should consider wearing sunscreen or securing a seat away from the window.
Some prior planning, as well as small steps taken during your flight, would help ensure you have a pleasant trip and arrive at your destination safely.