Minimizing Health Risks In Flights: Taking The Window Seat And Other Tips

There are numerous hazards and risks associated with traveling on an airplane. Some effects on the body are instantly noticeable after a long flight, while others gradually impact the health due to frequent flying.

Here are five tips recommended by health experts to avoid or reduce the negative impact of air travel.

Pick the window seat

According to a new study published March 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, taking a seat near the window ensures the least risk of getting sick. Compared to the aisle-seaters and middle-seaters, this position ensures passengers are the least likely to come into contact with other sick people in the cabin.

Use hand sanitizer 

Invisible filth hides in every part of the airplane, from seat buckles to door handles. A TravelMath study revealed, surprisingly, the tray tables were home to even more bacteria than the toilets.

"I recommend bringing aboard a sanitizing gel with 60 percent alcohol," said Dr. Mark Gendreau from Lahey Hospital and Medical Center.

Keeping in mind passengers with weak immune systems, he added sanitizer should be used before eating or drinking, and after washing hands in the bathroom sink.

Move your body to increase blood flow

Blood flow can be improved with the help of minor forms of exercise such as flexing your legs, twirling your ankles, stretching your arms, getting up and walking every now and then. This helps prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a dangerous blood clot which usually occurs in the legs due to blood thickening and clumping together.

For those who are at risk for DVT, it may also help to wear compression stockings or take blood thinners as per the advice of their doctor.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration is a major risk due to the pressurization changes in flight. Humidity levels inside an air cabin are approximately 10-20 percent which, compared to the 30-60 percent we are used to on the ground, highlights the importance of drinking enough fluids.

"If you are going on a long haul it’s recommended that you start [hydrating] the day before," said Fanancy Anzalone, an aerospace medicine physician and past president of the Aerospace Medical Association.

Adjust your body clock earlier

"The fundamental basis of jet lag is the disruption of your body clock system. We have what’s known as a circadian clock system that organizes everything about us," said Professor Steve Simpson from the University of Sydney.

Suffering from jet lag is associated with a large number of problems such as fatigue, headaches, insomnia, indigestion, lack of concentration, nausea etc. The best way to prevent a jet lag? Simpson recommended gradually shifting your sleep timings a few days before the planned air travel. Additionally, get enough light and avoid taking midday naps to align your body to the new time zone schedule.