If you think hydration is a concern on a cross-country flight, try tripling or quadrupling your time in the air; you might as well spend 15 hours lying on the desert floor. Which is a good comparison, and you should stock up and behave accordingly. Imagine you are going to a full-day hike. How much water would you bring? Expect to drink about that much on a 16-hour flight. Also consider drinking “electrolyte solution. Maintaining electrolyte balance is important, and that you don’t want to become completely diluted with water, particularly for older folks or people with other medical problems. The combination of dehydration and stasis can really become an issue with blood clots.
Deep vein thrombosis:
DVT, the formation of blood clots in deep veins, is a known (if occasionally overstated) risk on longer flights. According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk of developing DVT increases when flights go longer than four hours. The NIH’s tips include walking up and down the aisles of the plane; moving, flexing and stretching your legs to encourage blood flow, especially in your calves; wearing loose and comfortable clothing; drinking plenty of fluids; and avoiding alcohol. Also, if you’re at increased risk for DVT, your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings while traveling or taking a blood-thinning medicine before you fly.
The combination of being immobile along with the effects of dehydration increases the risk of DVT on long flights.
Here’s some good advice:
- Hydrate well the night before the flight, preferably with electrolyte drinks.
- Don’t drink alcohol the night before the flight.
- Avoid diuretics such as coffee, soft drinks and even chocolate (all of which contain caffeine).
- If you have no issue with ulcers, take a baby aspirin the night before and day of your flight.
- Get an aisle seat or exit row so you can get up and walk around whenever possible.
Colds & Flu:
With regards getting colds, the flu, bacteria in recycled air, it is your body’s compromised ability to deal with normal bacteria and viruses that puts you in danger of getting sick after a flight.
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