The Impact of Air Travel on Health
There are some health hazards you should be aware of before taking air travel, particularly if you are pregnant. These can include miscarriage, COVID-19 transmission, deep vein thrombosis, and jet lag.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a report on COVID-19 exposure on board aircraft. It found that a small percentage of passengers seated within two rows of an index case (a person who has COVID-19 and is symptomatic) are at increased risk of contracting the disease.
In addition to effective ventilation and disinfecting, a face mask may also be a valuable intervention. Masks are more effective at reducing droplet exposure, especially if used during meal service on longer flights.
While a recent Harvard University study suggests that the pandemic is less dangerous to fly than to eat, it remains unclear whether the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel is high. However, the CDC recommends that travelers get tested three to five days after traveling.
Deep vein thrombosis
One of the major concerns with long-distance air travel is the possibility of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). While most cases are not serious, the clot can get stuck in the blood vessels of the lungs and cause a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism (PE).
Symptoms of DVT include swelling, pain, and tenderness in the area. In addition, there may be a sensation of warmth or lightheadedness. The most common places for a clot to form are the calf, thigh, or pelvis vein. However, it is possible for a clot to form in any of the deep veins in the body.
While there is no proven reason to prevent clots from forming on flights, there are several ways to reduce the risk. These include engaging in DVT prophylaxis exercises and staying hydrated.
A recent study looked at the impact of air travel on health and miscarriage. Although it didn’t find high rates of complications, it did demonstrate the importance of air pollution to women and the baby.
Using a random sample of 1,751 pregnant flight attendants, researchers examined their work activities to see if there was a link between their occupational exposures and miscarriages. They found a number of associations.
First, the study considered the smallest exposure. It compared the number of days that a flight attendant worked during a given trimester to the days that they did not. Researchers found that flight attendants who worked during the early stages of pregnancy had slightly higher miscarriage rates.
Second, it measured the amount of time that flight attendants were exposed to radiation. The average dose a pregnant woman received during a 10-hour flight was 0.05 mSv. This is less than the exposures associated with diagnostic radiological procedures and is about the same as a few minutes of smoking by a coworker or passenger.
Traveling long distances can be a stressful experience, and it can affect your health in a number of ways. One of these effects is jet lag. Jet lag is a sleep disorder that occurs when your body’s internal clock is disrupted. This can cause sleepiness and fatigue, both of which can be debilitating.
Getting adequate sleep before your trip is one of the best ways to avoid jet lag. Some experts also recommend drinking plenty of water before you fly. It’s also a good idea to eat a healthy meal as close to the time you plan to eat as possible.
Another way to minimize the impact of air travel on your health is to get plenty of natural light during the day. Light exposure can help your body learn when to wake up.