10 Ways to Avoid the Health Risks of Executive Air Travel

Executive Air Travel

Executive air travel has become the preferred method of traversing the globe in the twenty first century. First class seating, Luxurious Amenities, faster aircrafts, an abundance of meal options have all made air travel the way to go for many. Even with all these incentives offered to executive travelers and an admirable flight safety record, air travel  still does pose significant health risks.

Baby boomers are uniquely susceptible to certain health complications from executive air travel.   Pre-existing medical history, dysfunctions and deficiencies related to age, stress and anxiety can all contribute to susceptibility.

Signs Symptoms and Casues

Low cabin pressure/expansion of gases:

As the aircraft travels at 25000 ft. + altitude, a drop in cabin Pressures will occur. When this overall pressure drops, gases in an encased area will expand. This may occur in body cavities as well, such as the gut, tooth fillings, the skull, middle ear and the sinuses. The physical affect can give rise to many symptoms such as:

  •  Baro sinusitis – Inflammation of the sinuses as a result of the pressure       difference between the sinuses and ambient air.
  •  Nausea, dizziness and vomiting
  •  Aeorotitis media – Infection of the middle ear cavity, as a result of air   travel
  •  Pneumothorax – Abnormal collection of air in the pleural space (between the lungs and the chest walls)
  • Aero dontalgia – Dental pain experienced during air travel

Economy class syndrome:

This can occur when legs are left immobilized in the same position in a tight space for a prolonged period of time. This can lead to the formation of clots in the veins of the legs. These clots can get then become dislodged and travel to the lungs, causing a very serious condition known as a Pulmonary Embolus- which can be fatal.

Low humidity:

As a result of the necessary maintenance of artificial cabin pressure and the constant use of in-fight cooling systems, a very low level of humidity can lead to higher incidence of dehydration.

“Jet flight” leg:

Less severe, very common,  but still bothersome is the lower limb swelling which is known as ‘Jet flight leg’.

Above and beyond these complications, stress and anxiety have also been noted as contributing factors among the baby boomer population.

Simple Solutions to Health Risks

There are certain measures that can be taken to minimize any Health  complications that arise from frequent executive air travel:

  1. Stay hydrated-drink plenty of fluids and try to avoid caffeine and alcohol in-flight
  2. Stay away from drinks and foods that are gas producing-these can often produce unpleasant and bothersome effects
  3. Avoid nicotine and tobacco products
  4. Try to take little ‘mini-walks’ up and down the aisle to promote good circulation-By giving the leg muscles a bit of movement, the executive traveler is able to avert the possibility of complications from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  If it is difficult to move about, try doing static mobility stretching exercises of the lower leg joints and muscles.
  5. Try to get an aisle seat  which can give you easier access  to that ‘mini-walking’ path.  Also put yourself as far from the engines as possible.
  6. This is a big one! Don’t neglect regular medication in-flight-It’s easy to miss a dosage so set an alarm or reminder to yourself to take your regular prescribed meds.
  7.  Avoid air travel if there is recent incidence of sinus infections/inflammations or middle ear infections.
  8. Avoid air travel if there is the presence of unstable angina, recent bowel surgery, severe restrictive lung disease, unresolved Pneumothorax, malignant hypertensions, uncontrolled heart failure and Arrhythmias.
  9. Executive Travel-related stress can be a killer!  Unless  absolutely necessary unplug from work or other stress inducing factors and relax with a good book an in-flight movie, or some killer Sudoku. It is amazing how much a calm mind can lead to a healthy physiology and an  overall pleasant travel experience.
  10. Flight take-off and landing are amongst the most uncomfortable moments during a flight, try sucking on a piece of candy or chewing some gum, as this might aid in clearing any blockage of the middle ears

While executive air travel has made globe trotting accesible to many, it has also poses some unique health risks.  Baby boomers  and the 50+ crowd are a specific group of executive travelers that are susceptible to a host of complications that come from both age related  factors as well as the frequency of travel.  However, armed with these tools and tips and some diligence effort, the savvy executive traveler can easily tip the odds in their favor.

Special thanks: Dr Pandula Siribaddana, Helium.com

image: optimizedexecutive.com

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