Long Haul Flights
Long-haul flights are journeys typically made by wide-body aircraft, they involve long distances, typically beyond six and a half hours in length and are often non-stop flights.
Long haul travel is regularly associated with symptoms of dehydration, fatigue, irritability and jetlag.
Dry Cabins and Dehydration
Within most airplanes humidity is kept between 12 - 21% (like a desert!) compared with a comfortable humidity of 60 – 70%
Common symptoms during flights and air-conditioned buses and trains include:
- Dry skin and eyes
- Dry mouth and increased thirst
- Tiredness or lethargy
NOTE: These symptoms are some of the signs of mild to moderate dehydration.
Tips for avoiding dehydration on Long Haul Flights:
- Stay hydrated: drink 2-3 glasses of water and one dose of an oral rehydration solution (Hydralyte) as a minimum
- Saline nasal sprays can help the nasal passages from drying out
- Artificial tears may be useful for contact lens wearers
- Consumption of strong alcohol and caffeinated beverages during travel can also contribute to the dehydration process, and where practical, quantities should be limited
Jet Lag- How to Avoid
Jetlag is a term used to describe the uncomfortable aftermath of a long haul flight through several time zones. The individuals ‘internal clock’ is out of step with the ‘real’ time at their destination. Jetlag is said to be worst when travelling to the east and has been known to cause symptoms such as:
- Sleep difficulties
- Impaired concentration & physical performance
- Loss of appetite
While there is presently no single therapy effective for treating jetlag, keeping well hydrated is part of the portfolio of coping strategies.
Stay hydrated during your flight: drink 2-3 glasses of water and one dose of an oral rehydration solution (Hydralyte) as a minimum.
NOTE: Staying hydrated won’t cure Jetlag but it will help!
Jetlag will usually disappear within about three days of arrival, but is often highly inconvenient when you’re trying to enjoy an overseas holiday or function at a conference – thus anything you can do to minimise and manage these symptoms will make your next overseas journey all the more enjoyable!
Other coping strategies to minimise the impact of jetlag:
- Start the journey as relaxed as you can. Ensure a good sleep the night before air travel; allow plenty of time to get to the airport.
- Plan a stopover if possible.
- Try to adapt to the destination time zone before arriving as much as practical. If possible it can help to eat and sleep as if you were already at the destination.
Note: This is actually very hard to do, especially on long-haul online pharmacy india flights where food comes at fixed times, and cabins are blacked out for movies.
- Avoid dehydration on the plane. Staying hydrated is one of the strategies research has shown to minimise the impact of jetlag. Cabins on planes are particularly dry.
- Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine during your flight. These substances are stimulants and may further compound jetlag by contributing to dehydration, and can throw out natural sleep patterns.
- When possible avoid making important commitments for the first 24 hours after arrival at your destination. This is particularly pertinent for those who are required to make important decisions. Judgement could be impaired by the time change so, for better performance, allow some time to recover
- Try to go for a walk in daylight on the day of arrival. If you arrive in the day, try to stay up and get exposure to sunlight. If you arrive at night, try to go to bed and sleep/rest, do this even if your body is telling you that it is awake.
If you think you require something to help you sleep, consult your healthcare professional before your journey.
Comfort Tips for Long Haul Flights
FLUIDS- Keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum. Minimise dehydration by drinking 2-3 glasses of water and one dose of oral rehydration solution (Hydralyte) per long haul flight. Carbonated drinks cause bloating through expansion of stomach gases on ascent.
FOOD- Eat only when hungry. At lighter more digestible parts of your meal and avoid fatty and rich carbohydrate foods.
DRESS- Wear loose clothing, long skirts or comfortable trousers, light sweaters etc. Avoid tight or restrictive clothing. Wear comfortable shoes and take them off during the flight.
SLEEP- Try to sleep on longer sections of the flight. Close the blinds, wear an eye mask and ask for a pillow. Rest without sleeping on day time flights.
ACTIVITY- Take regular walks around the plane and exercise at airport stops. Keep feet up when resting and exercise by rotating ankles and flexing major muscles of the legs.
SPECIAL BODY CARE- Moisten your face and eyes frequently. Use moisturisers to reduce the feeling of dehydration. It is preferable to use spectacles rather than contact lenses when flying. Carry a lens case and extra solution to avoid drying out.
EAR OR SINUS PAIN- can occur when flying with a cold. The discomfort can be minimised by using a nasal decongestant spray prior to take off and landing. The use of mentholated sweets or gum promotes swallowing and helps equalise ear pressure.