Pre-travel medical examinations
It is recommended that international passengers seek a pre-travel medical examination and advice on vaccinations, safety precautions and information on the current situation at the destination, before and for the duration of the trip.
Air travel may have physical or psychological effects: stress, abdominal distension, ear pain, sinus congestion, leg swelling, body ache, airsickness, jet lag and, in rare cases, deep vein thrombosis.
Some recommendations to keep in good form during your flight
- Avoid heavy meals before and during flight
- Breathe deeply, be relaxed, as stress increases gastric acidity and abdominal discomfort
- Keep hydrated by drinking water or fruit juice throughout the flight; avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks because of their diuretic effect
- Use moisturizer to prevent skin dryness
- Wear loose fitting cloths, take off shoes and move around in the cabin
- Stretch and move your body as recommended for in-flight exercises<
- Consult your doctor for appropriate treatment to prevent airsickness; keep eyes fixed on a non-moving object during turbulence
- For personnel hygiene, wash hands regularly
Well controlled, diabetics can travel by adjusting their treatment and meal times to specific time zones. Patients with insulin should inform the airline before departure and carry with them a medical certificate (in English) for bringing syringes and needles on board.
Some health hazards from pressure changes during flight :
Otitis and Sinusitis
Passengers with nasal allergies or chronic sinusitis are more prone to have ear and sinus problems because of low humidity in the cabin, changes in cabin pressure during ascent and descent aggravated nasal congestion. Especially during descent, the Eustachian tube tends to collapse in the middle ear, resulting in the characteristic “pop” sensation, difficulty hearing and pain.
To avoid ear blockage
Keep hydrated by drinking throughout the flight
Use nasal decongestant spray, normal saline spray or other decongestants 30 minutes before departure to prevent nasal swelling
To prevent blockage, practice frequent swallowing, chewing or gentle (holding nose and generating pressure with closed mouth until ears pop)
Trans-meridian flights through multiple time zones on long-haul routes can cause sleeping difficulties stemming from biological clock and circadian rhythm disorder. The main symptoms are sleeping difficulty, tiredness, dizziness, constipation and a decrease in mental and/or physical performance.
Elderly passengers, passengers traveling on night flights and eastward tend to be more sensitive to jet lag.
To re-synchronize the internal biological clock more easily, some tricks can be used: Melatonin or short action hypnotics can be used (melatonin is contra-indicated in children, people taking warfarin or those who have epilepsy).
Going to bed one hour earlier and awakening one hour earlier three days before traveling eastward and later if traveling westward
Natural light exposure during day at the new destination will help resynchronization
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
So-called “economy class syndrome” is a condition in which the thrombus develops in deep veins due to long distance flights, variation of cabin atmosphere (decrease in humidity and hypoxia, for example), immobility and dehydration.
A dangerous consequence is that DVT can result in a pulmonary embolism. Symptoms of DVT can come late, after flights, indicated by aching or soreness in the calf, swelling in the calf or ankles, slight fever or feeling unwell.
Safety precaution to avoid DVT
- Wear loose fitting and comfortable clothing
- Wear graduated compression stockings
- Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the flight
- Leave the underside of the seat in front of you free to be able to move the legs
- Walk often in the cabin
- Exercise as recommended in the aircraft
- High risk passengers should consult their doctor before travelling for prevention (such as with low molecular weight heparin or aspirin)
This is just some suggestions but we always recommend you consult your medical physician for advice