Simply Su-jok: Know how to make your air travel painless

Prof G B LuthriaUpdated:Sunday, February 13, 2022, 03:14 PM IST
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After nearly two years of restricted international traveling, most nations around the world are gearing to open their air-borders in an attempt to return to normalcy. It means a lot more of us will be queuing up at airports for a long distance flight for work or leisure. One thing for sure though, flying will not be the same as before. The very fear of contracting an infection on the flight will keep us on guard hopefully, but will also add to the stress of long distance flying. Besides the added stress, long distance air travel presents quite a few health risks, even for those who consider themselves healthy. Some of the main health risks of ultra-long-haul flights:

  • Lower oxygen levels.

  • Dehydration. Cabin-air humidity is usually less than 20%.

  • Deep vein thrombosis. 

  • Radiation.

  • Bloated belly.

  • Energy sap.

  • Negative ear pressure.

  • Infection. 

The higher you are in the sky, the less oxygen your body will carry, and less oxygen means higher blood pressure. If you typically have a regular blood pressure or even a low blood pressure, this increase will likely have no effect on you. However, those with high blood pressure may be at a greater risk of developing hypertension which can lead to heart failure, coronary artery disease, and other health conditions.

If you suffer from high blood pressure it doesn’t mean you can’t travel by plane, it just means you have to be cautious. Make sure to stand up and move around the plane when it is safe to do so. Also, if you take blood pressure medication, don’t forget to pack it in your carry-on so you can take it as needed. 

Another problem encountered in an environment that changes pressure frequently is that with the ear. When you fly the change in altitude comes on so quickly that it doesn’t allow your ears to adjust to the air pressure outside, meaning that the two are not equalised. This results in the dreaded and often painful earache and temporary hearing loss that many people experience while flying. Some things you can do to avoid developing these issues include swallowing which will cause the air pressure both outside and inside the ear to equalize, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy to stimulate swallowing, yawning, and drinking lots of fluids.

Another risk during air travel is developing leg clots or deep vein thrombosis or DVT. It's also known as “economy-class syndrome” -- a condition often brought about during long flights on cramped seats. Periods of immobility increase the risk of DVTs because sitting and leg room are cramped. You want to create a situation where your legs are moving and the muscles are contracting. Something as simple as tapping the feet will do nicely; this type of movement will also create movement in the shins and thighs, and even in the hip joint. I would recommend you to keep drinking water to counter dehydration. 

The temptation of consuming free alcohol in the air may be high for many, but this thirst is very avoidable, as it not only adds to the dehydration process but can impact those suffering from blood pressure. I also would advise against drinking ice-cold or cold water. That's because, according to Ayurveda principles, being in the air parallels Vata (dryness), a condition that does not like the cold.

Avoid cold foods too such as raw salads. Decline carbonated beverages, which are full of gas and will cause a bloated belly. Avoid sugar-laden food and drink. Opt for warm liquids, and choose tea over coffee. Further it is better to eat a meal before boarding the plane and safer too, especially for people suffering from high blood pressure, as eating in the sky tends to increase pressure build up. 

Since the airlines and security may not permit you to paste magnets on hand or carry Jimmy or a stretchable ring that you can keep rolling, I am suggesting massage of all fingers and the wrist that contain all the organs, Endocrine glands, muscles and bones. Immune enhancement: Three black color dots, High B.P.: Apply blue color on back of the thumb below the nail.

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