Image of lady travelling for business

Up and Away: The Impact of Flying on Your Health

As traveling for business becomes more of a regular occurrence, travelers are having to take precautions to ensure they are escaping the dreaded travel bug. With some women having to travel monthly, weekly and even daily, many are unaware of the risks flying can pose to their health.

With a few tips and tricks up his sleeve, Dr. Ryan Harvey from House Call Doctor Brisbane breaks down the hazards of flying and the precautions available to avoid them.


Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clotting condition that can be fatal if left unattended.  DVT happens in the legs, and the risk is higher for longer flights. Pregnant women, the elderly, the obese, those with a history of heart disease, and those who have recently had surgery are more prone to the condition.Move as much as you can and wear in-flight socks or compression tights to help increase your blood flow to your legs and heart to avoid DVT.

Sitting for long periods of time, such as on a long-haul flight, causes our digestive system to slow down. This can lead to us feeling gassy and constipated. The best way to combat this is to move around the plane, drink lots of water and steer away from caffeine and alcohol.

Shallow breathing can be a major concern as cabin pressure can mimic high altitude. Lack of oxygen can lead to light-headedness, aching joints and difficulty concentrating. This is a cause of concern when it comes to flying, if you experience such symptoms, make sure you alert a flight attendant as soon as possible so they can increase the airflow to the cabin.

Jet Lag
Following a flight, travelers must be aware of the risks of jet lag. Insufficient sleep can affect the body and mind, and side effects can mimic those of chronic fatigue including exhaustion and memory loss.


A good night’s sleep the night before a long flight is key to protecting your health. There is no guarantee that you’ll get any decent rest on the plane amid loud passengers, food delivery and in-flight announcements – so plan ahead.

Pack Snacks
Meals on planes can often be different to what you are used to. Pack your own healthy snacks but be aware of any restrictions of what you can and cannot take on board.

Drink Plenty of Water
It is easy to become dehydrated during a flight, so ensure you are drinking plenty of water to keep your fluid levels up.

Clean Your Area
Wipe down tray tables, arm rests and head rests if possible to ensure your area is clean.

Stretch and Walk Around
When on the flight, it is important to encourage blood flow and loosen up muscles to prevent stiffness, pressure wounds and aching muscles. It is also vital for avoiding circulatory conditions, like DVT. Get up regularly and walk around the plane. You can also do minor exercises, such as circling your feet and stretches while sitting in your seat.

Chew Gum
Cabin pressure rises significantly during take-off and landing which makes your ears pop. This sensation can be painful – chewing gum or even yawning relieves the pressure in your eustachian tube (middle ear) allowing air to flow freely and quickly.

With 50 percent of air being recycled on board and constant air conditioning, your lips and face can become dehydrated. Carry a flight approved moisturizer and lip balm and apply regularly.

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