7 Tips for protecting yourself from the health hazards of air travel

Flying is hazardous. It not just the one in thousands or one in millions chances of crashes or terrorism, it’s physical effects of travel that are far more common and potentially just as serious. Whether traveling on business or pleasure, here are some tips from Harvard Men’s Health Watch for reducing the health hazards of flying:

  • Air pressure: Prevent sinus and ear problems by chewing gum and swallowing often. If suffering from a cold or active nasal allergy, use decongestants to prevent pain, hearing problems and infections.

  • Blood clots: Mobility is the key to preventing blood clots. Ask for an exit row or aisle seat for more leg room. Don’t cross your legs. Stretch often and pump your feet up and down for 30 seconds every half hour.

  • Infections: Cabin air isn’t likely to present a hazard but your seat-mate might. Maximize air exchange by keeping your overhead vent open.

  • Dehydration: Cabin air is dry, causing water to be lost with every exhalation. Drink early and often, but avoid beverages with caffeine and alcohol which can worsen dehydration.

  • Stress: Arriving early, dressing comfortably, and keeping your travel documents safe but handy, can all help reduce the stress of traveling.

  • Jet Lag: Minimize jet lag by getting plenty of rest before departing and keep a light schedule upon arriving. Don’t rely on caffeine to wake you up or alcohol to help you fall asleep.

  • Motion sickness: Travel on an empty stomach if you are prone to motion sickness. Sit upright, and don’t read or watch videos during periods of turbulence.