Secrets To Staying Healthy During Long Haul Flights

in General,Whole Body

nurseNo-one really relishes the idea of long haul flights. Even if you are jetting off to the other side of the world on the holiday of a lifetime, the thought of spending 24 hours locked up in an airplane is daunting. Not only have you got to consider bored and fatigue (and even more so if traveling with children), but there are the health implications too. According to industry reports, people on airplanes are 113 times more likely to catch a cold, than in any other situation.

It’s not much fun arriving in your destination not feeling your best, so there are a few things you can do to stay healthy during long haul flights.


It is important to stay hydrated on long haul flights. The thinner air and reduced humidity at altitude diminishes the body’s ability to fight germs. Keeping your throat moist will help, as will using a nasal mist.


Another factor just waiting to cause sickness when flying is germ transference. Germs can survive up to three hours, so your immediate surroundings can be contaminated from the previous and your fellow passengers. Carry a packet of disinfectant wet wipes and use them on your arm rests, tray table, TV screen and seat belt.

airplane passengersAir Pressure

Ear popping is an uncomfortable experience which happens when the air in the Eustachian Tube (passageway between nose and ear), is unable to immediately re-balance changes in air pressure. If it fails to correct, you might suffer reduced hearing and earache, and in some cases it can cause dizziness and nausea. Sucking sweets during take-off and landing is recommended, but hard swallowing, yawning and lots of deep breaths, can also help. Some people clear the ‘blockage’ by holding their nose and blowing until they feel a pop. If you have to blow too hard, don’t; this could damage your ear drum.


One of the scariest complications of long haul flights is Deep Vein Thrombosis. This is a condition that can develop in travelers (or anyone else), who sit motionless for lengthy periods of time. The propensity to develop DVT also increases with the greater number of intercontinental flights. DVT is a blood clot that forms deep in the leg muscles. The reason they are worrisome, is because a blood clot can cause a pulmonary embolism, should it reach your lungs. Compression socks should be worn for the duration of a long haul flight. Also, try and walk about the airplane if possible, and there are some simple exercises that can help with circulation in your legs. Curl your toes and press them down clenching your buttocks at the same time.

Air Vents

Be sure that when flying with inexpensive airlines that although the air from the over seat vents can be somewhat frigid, it is best to keep them open. The air coming through them has been filtered for recirculation, and therefore is likely to be much more germ-free than the circulated air in the cabin. Breeding germs find a nice haven in the restricted ventilation of airplane cabins, so constantly ‘changing’ the air in your immediate vicinity, reduces your risk of breathing germ filled air. It is better to wear a jumper than leave those air vents closed. This problem is very real. The airlines take the issue of flu transference very seriously, and there is a regulation that passengers need to be removed from an airplane, within thirty minutes of the ventilation system being turned off.

Those are the major considerations for keeping healthy as you fly the skies, but you should also consider others such as, making sure any food is piping hot if you are eating on-board meals, and to move away from sneezing, coughing passengers if you can.

There’s no need to feel paranoid. Most of this is common sense. If you look after yourself on a long haul flight, you’ll land healthy and raring to go.

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