Dehydration, Radiation, Blood Clots: Ways In Which Long Flights Can Affect You

The lifting of travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has given way for people to revenge travel. Now, more individuals are traveling to different corners of the world to make up for all the trips they couldn't take amid the lockdowns.

But did you know that long-haul flights are also linked with certain risks? Knowing about them is especially crucial now, as Qantas just announced its plan to offer non-stop flights from Australia's east coast to London starting in 2025. Travelers who will be on these flights will have to be in the air for more than 19 hours straight, according to ScienceAlert.

So, let's take a look at some of the effects and risks that long flights can have on a person's body.

Dehydration

This is commonly experienced by people on long-haul flights. It is the reason why one's nose, throat and skin often feel dry on an airplane.

The low level of humidity present in cabins results in this effect, mainly because most of the air circulating in the cabin comes from outside, where there's little moisture due to high altitude. This also explains why the longer the flight is, the greater the risk of dehydration.

Not drinking sufficient water or drinking more alcohol can also lead to dehydration on airplanes.

The bottom line is that you should remember to consciously drink more water before boarding and during the flight.

Radiation

Being that high up in the air increases one's chances of exposure to cosmic radiation. While there is currently no known limit to safe exposure, radiation may increase the risk of cancer and reproductive issues, according to the outlet.

However, this is unlikely to be a problem unless one is a frequent flyer. Nevertheless, pregnant women and people with other health concerns should consult their doctor before flying.

Blood Clots

Staying immobile for long periods of time is associated with the development of blood clots. The clots can form in the leg, called deep vein thrombosis or DVT, which can migrate to the lungs where it leads to pulmonary embolism.

Certain factors like obesity, old age, pregnancy, previous history or a family history of clots and recent surgery increase the chances of developing clots.

A scientific review in 2022 found that the longer one travels, the greater the risk of blood clots. Overall, there is reportedly a 26% higher risk associated with every 2 hours of flight duration, beginning after 4 hours of air travel.

Therefore, make sure to keep moving at regular intervals during a flight.

COVID-19

Don't forget the reason why traveling was restricted in the first place. Humanity is still not done with the pandemic. Hence, remember the usual precautions — wash hands regularly, wear a mask and refrain from flying if sick.

Recent reports of COVID-19 cases increasing by leaps and bounds in China has the world on the edge.

"Right now, the pandemic situation in China is not transparent. We have a very limited grasp on its information, and it's not very accurate," Wang Pi-Sheng, head of Taiwan's epidemic command center, said.

However, Chinese officials debunked these claims, noting they have always reported new virus strains in a timely manner. "We keep nothing secret. All work is shared with the world," Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at China CDC, said.

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