Health Notes: Air Travel
by Ellen S. Mullen M.D.
Many people travel regularly by plane for work, and others travel occasionally for fun, or to visit friends and family. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to make air travel safer and more enjoyable. Here are some tips.
It is a good idea to pack your medications in your carry-on bag. Make sure you bring enough medication to last your whole trip along with some extra in case you run into delays. Check with your doctor to see if you need to change the timing of your dosages if you will be experiencing a time change or if your eating or sleeping times will be changing.
If you have a life threatening illness, such as epilepsy, heart disease or diabetes, carry a card or ID with the name and number of your doctor as well as the names and dosages of all of your medications and your illnesses.
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration from the dry air on airplanes. Water is the best. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. These may be more dehydrating. Wear comfortable shoes so in the event of an emergency landing you are able to move quickly. Moving about regularly and wearing support stockings help to prevent blood clots from developing. Ear pain can be avoided by taking a decongestant medication or nasal spray prior to flying. Chewing gum or having a baby suck on a pacifier or bottle during flight may also be helpful.
If you require a special diet or will need oxygen in flight you must inform the airlines in advance to make arrangements. The airlines will also provide wheelchair assistance between gates if this is needed.
To avoid jet lag make sure you are well rested prior to the trip. Avoid alcohol and overeating. Try to eat well balanced meals and avoid lots of snacking. Exercise regularly and if you take sleep medication only use it for a few days. Melatonin and other herbal or alternative medications may help with jet lag but discuss this with your doctor before taking these.
Now, buckle up and enjoy your flight.