Travel healthy

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How to stay healthy while traveling on a plane. You don’t have to worry yourself sick about getting sick when you’re on holiday. Taking appropriate steps ensures that your health doesn’t intrude on your holiday. Even if you’re in a peak condition you need to plan properly, to make sure that you stay that way.

Tips on how to stay healthy while traveling on a plane !

For starters – Fill out a plastic box with pain relievers such as paracetamol and lbugesic, decongestants, antacids, anti diarrhoeals, antiseptic cream.

More significant problems can be prevented with common sense precaution. Carry detailed information about medication.

Protect yourself with vaccinations and health insurance

Vaccinations are required by some countries for entry.

Indians need to be vaccinated against Meningoccus for entry to Saudi Arabia for the Haj (safe for pregnant women) and Yellow fever for South America and Africa (not safe for pregnant women).

Make sure that you are up to date with all your vaccinations.

Health Insurance and Travel Insurance is vital for domestic and international travel. Understand your policy, determine what coverage your plan offers, how to seek prior authorization for international care, how to make a claim after an emergency.

Prepare your own pharma kit

Travelling with a medical condition requires special preparation.

Keep all drugs in their original bottles so that their names are known and they can be reviewed in an emergency. Pack syringes with the drugs that are dispensed within.

Tuck in an extra supply in a carry bag in case your checked in bags go missing. If you are carrying opioids, syringes and a huge amount of supplies, the custom officers may harangue you, so keep your doctor’s note handy.

how to stay healthy while traveling

If in doubt, ask the airlines for clarifications before setting out.


Common health problems while traveling on a plane

Blood clots

These occur when people sit for long periods during air, rail, bus or car travel. They attack older people, the overweight, smokers, those with varicose veins, are on estrogen, have undergone surgery recently, or have had blood clots previously, have been bed-ridden.

Blood clots from in the leg or pelvic veins (deep vein thrombosis) and occasionally dislodge and travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism, a fatal condition).

You may feel breathless, have chest pain and faint.

The risk is greatest on flights that last longer than 3 hours, when you are packed into Economy class seats, that provide little room for movement.

What must you do:

Move around to rev up your circulation while in transit. Get an aisle seat, change positions, straighten and shift your legs, walk up and down the aisle every half hour.

Don’t be shy to stand on the tip toes and wriggle your toes for three minutes. Drink plenty of liquids and skip that before dinner cocktail and post-prandial coffee.


You can get dried out because of the low humidity in airplanes. It affects older people and those suffering from diabetes and taking diuretics, with symptoms like itching eyes, uncomfortably dry nasal passages, light headaches, drowsiness, dry skin, confusion.

What you must do:

Drink plenty of water and juices, and go easy on alcohol which further dehydrates you by speeding the fluids through your system. If you wear contacts it’s a good idea to switch to spectacles temporarily.

Use plenty of moisturizer, even inside the nostrils. Moisol drops lubricate the eyes.  Put a wet handkerchief over your nose and mouth while sleeping to retain the moisture in the air that you breathe in.

Ear pressure

As an airplane takes off the cabin pressure plummets and small pockets of air trapped in the sinuses and middle ear, expand leading to ear pressure, ear “popping” and mild sinus discomfort.

As an airplane descends, cabin pressure increases and it all happens again. They go away as air pressure in the sinuses and ears equalize with cabin pressure.

What you must do:

Chewing gum, swallowing frequently or yawning all activate the muscle that opens you eustachian tubes- the tiny channels between your nasal passages and your middle ear.

how to stay healthy while traveling

However if you’re got a head cold and sinus trouble, your Eustachian tubes are likely to be blocked by the swollen membranes in your nose especially during descent.

You end up with a vacuum like effect that seems to suck you eardrums inwards. It hurts, plus it muffles your hearing. It makes sense to postpone air travel.

Or take decongestants an hour before descent to shrink the membranes in your nose leaving more room for air to travel through. For a more forceful method try this trick. Pinch your nose shut.


Fear of flying

This results in worsening of medical conditions, during flight. It can cause insomnia, making jet lag worse.

What you must do:

Having a cheerful companion, who doesn’t scoff at your jitters, can help. So can Deep Breathing, Meditation, visualizing a happy scene that awaits you, anti anxiety drugs or sedatives.


It’s not from the enclosed air circulating in the cabin that you pick up flu and cold germs, or conjunctivitis. Rather, it’s from handling objects e.g. door handles, flush lever that carry the bugs.

In a cruise ship, concern is greatest for flu and viral diarrhoea.

What you must do:

Minimize your risk by frequent hand washing. Go ahead. Wear a mouth mask if the fellow in the next seat is hacking away.


Accidents can occur if you don’t enforce basic precautions.

how to stay healthy while traveling

What you must do:

Be careful! Don’t attempt to lift that ton weight suitcase.

On a cruise, wear shoes that provide good traction on wet surfaces, use hand rails, remove sunglasses before entering ship stairwells, watch your step, use a torch at night.

Jet lag

It’s common with air travel across more than 3 time zones. It doesn’t occur with sea, rail or car travel because you have time to adjust to time zone change.

Symptoms are fatigue, but naturally, teamed with irritability, insomnia, headache, difficulty concentrating.

What you must do:

Adjust sleep and wake time by an hour back or forward for 2 days before departure to coincide with those of your destination.

In flight drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeine and excessive alcohol. Consider melatonin (Eternex) a sleep-inducing hormone normally produced by the body when it’s dark.

It needs to be taken an hour before your scheduled bedtime and there’s no hang over feeling.

Other short acting sedatives can make you sleepy, but the drowsiness can persist when you need to be awake.

On arrival minimize napping, get some sun and exercise, stay alert until evening, then go to bed at the right local time. Carbo-rich food and try ptophan rich milk helps you snooze.

Motion sickness

Happens during air, sea, rail, bus and car travel when the brain receives contradictory information from its motion sensors- the eyes, the inner ear, the muscles.

It is triggered by turbulence and vibration, and is aggravated by warmth, hunger. The main symptoms are stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness.

how to stay healthy while traveling

What you must do:

You can minimize the effects before and during travel by moderating intake of food, fluids, and specially alcohol. Fixing your eyes on a stationary object or on the horizon can help, as can lying down and closing your eye.

Choose the seat where the motion is felt least- in the front of a vehicle, never the wheels, in the center of an airplane, near the wing; a cabin in the middle of a ship close to the water level.

Don’t read and sit by an open window or air vent. Eat small amounts of low fat, starchy food.

Try ginger (candied or the root) or an acupressure wrist band which have no side effects. Antihistamines are useful if taken before travel, but often cause drowsiness, light headedness, dry mouth, even confusion.


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