Travelling by air has never been more popular, but with the increase in longdistance flights it’s important to remain vigilant about keeping healthy while in the air. Here’s a few travel tips to help you arrive in your best shape to enjoy your holiday destination.

Travel broadens the mind, but it also may, of course, pose a risk to your health. It’s useful to know how extended plane trips can affect your body and what steps you can take to keep healthy while in the air, for a safe and happy journey.

1. Have a check-up before you fly

If you’re concerned about your health while flying, see a doctor before you go. This is crucial for anyone with a pre-existing illness.

2. Ears, sinuses & altitude

The change in air pressure can cause problems with our ears and sinuses,  Dr Harvey from housecalldoctor.com.au explains: “Changing pressure causes the air in the hollow spaces in our body to expand. This can affect our sinus and inner ears.” He says many of these issues can be overcome by equalising the pressure in your ears by “popping” them, done by closing your mouth, pinching your nose and pressing out air, or by chewing or drinking during take off and landing.

3. Cabin humidity

Sam Barbalatt founder of ENT Technologies says, “The air in aircraft cabins runs at a humidity level of around 20 per cent and -19 degrees Celsius. The nose doesn’t respond well to prolonged exposure to this sort of cool and drying environment.” This can make it difficult to naturally clear your nose, which adversely affects the immune processes of the nasal tissues. Barbalatt says that this is one of the main reasons why passengers can pick up a viral infection. “The problem comes on arrival at destinations where contact is made with airport personnel and often in air-conditioned environments in which there’s no viral filtration,” he says. Keeping nasal passages moist with a preservative-free nasal spray containing red seaweed extract i.e. Flo Travel may help.

4. In-flight fatigue

Any traveller will tell you about experiencing fatigue or jet lag after a flight. This is due to the reduced levels of oxygen on board, which are about 25 per cent lower than those found at sea level. Some passengers can experience sleeplessness, headaches and even nausea. Virgin Australia cabin crew member Hanna Murphy often makes the 14-hour trip from Sydney to Los Angeles and says, “I eat well, drink plenty of water and make sure to exercise.”

5. Risks of dehydration

While climbing across your fellow passengers to go to the toilets might seem annoying, it’s important to keep your fluids up. Reduced air pressure and oxygen levels cause the body to become dehydrated, with a recent study by comparetravelinsurance.com.au showing that we lose 1.5L of water during a three-hour flight. Murphy advises passengers to regularly drink water, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

6. Bloating & Swelling

Air pressure changes cause a build up of gas and fluid in the body, which can lead to bloating, constipation and other gastrointestinal issues. Maintaining fluid intake, while doing in-flight exercises should help with this.

Excerpt taken from ‘In it for the Long Haul” by Danielle Pope, MindFood Magazine.