Holiday season is coming up, which means that it’s now peak travelling time! Long-haul flights are associated with negative feelings after arrival, and that accounts for travel fatigue. Furthermore, the amount of time spent in a confined environment, restrictions in food choices and dehydration due to dry cabin air are all contributing factors. When you’re on holiday, the last thing you want to happen is to feel down. But not to worry, here we go through 4 long-haul flight problems and how to overcome them, from Doc2Us founder Dr. Raymond Choy!
1) Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Otherwise known as Economy Class Syndrome, DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in the deep veins of the legs due to reduced mobility during the flight. Small clots may not produce any symptoms, but larger clots can cause pain and swelling in the leg. The real problem happens when a part of the clot breaks off and flows to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. Increased risk of DVT include previous DVT, blood disorders, smoking, consumption of contraceptive pills, and recent orthopaedic or neurosurgery.
To combat: Wear special compression stockings to prevent clot formation in legs, drink plenty of water and move around periodically on board.
2) Jet Lag
A temporary problem, jet lag is a sleep disorder that is a reaction to travelling between time zones. There is a small group of cells within each of us that are unique “body clock” genes, and they keep us in tune with the pattern of day and night. Jet lag kicks in when this internal body clock is disturbed, and it can affect several body processes such as temperature and hormone levels. Because travelling between time zones changes the light-dark patterns in your environment, it can disrupt your body’s rhythms. A change of even a few hours may not seem significant, but often it is enough to affect the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
To Combat: Advance or delay your body clock gradually before you travel, plan ahead to determine the best times for light exposure, stay on home time if your trip is short, undergo light therapy, exercising, and avoid heavy commitments on the first day.
Air pressure changes cause a build-up of gas in your body, which leads to bloating, constipation and other related gastrointestinal issues. Furthermore, irregular eating patterns and sleeping schedules during long-haul flights will affect digestion, which leads to constipation. Certain food and drinks such as cabbage, potato, fried food, fatty meals and fizzy drinks are known to be contributing factors as well.
To Combat: Avoid food that encourage intestinal expansion such as onion, cauliflower, cabbage and baked beans, take probiotics, move around regularly on board, and stay hydrated.
The pressurised cabin environment is dry and cold, leading to dehydration and dry skin. This in turn will cause the mucous membranes of nose, mouth and throat to dry out. Besides, beverages such as alcohol, coffee and soft drinks will make passengers go to the toilet more, thus increasing the risks of dehydration. In fact, passengers are advised to start hydrating themselves well one day before the flight.
To Combat: Drink plenty of water, and apply suitable products such as lotion and lip balm.