It’s always exciting when the vacation we’ve been waiting for is finally here and we can travel to a foreign country. Flying is exhilirating – knowing that we’re going to be above the clouds and that a new experience awaits us when we land. We snuggle up into our seats and flip through the magazine to see which movies we’re going to watch. Airlines have been doing a good job in convincing us why we should fly their airline, with countless advertisements and striving to rank as the best airlines. One of the determining factors is cabin cleanliness and is quintessential if that airline wants to remain a competitive differentiator in the industry.
However, unknown to many passengers, air travel brings about certain health hazards. I’m not talking about the dramatic illusion you have of a plane crash, or These are more subtle risks, invisible to the human eye, but with impacts that could be hazardous. This doesn’t mean people should be afraid of flying, rather it means knowing the risks and then effectively addressing them.
During long haul flights, the numbing sensation in your legs can be more serious than a mere discomfort that seemingly goes away once you get off the plane, it could actually be a case of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep leg vein, these deep veins are blood vessels that go through the thigh and calf muscles, they are no the visible ones right under the skin. DVT occus when one sits in a stationary position for long periods of time, and blood begins to flow more slowly and collects at the ankles when legs are hanging down. This increases the chance of the blood clotting. Further complications such as a blood clot in the lungs or long-term discomfort can result from DVT. There is a simple way to counter this, one should wear loose and comfortable pants that would allow for the circulation of the blood. Also whenever it is safe to unbuckle one’s seatbelt, take a walk up and down the aisles of the plane to get the blood In your legs flowing again.
Ever wondered why pregnant women beyond 36 weeks are discouraged from flying? While there is the fear that the expecting mother may give birth on the plane, more often than not, it is because the airline does not want to be responsible for the complications that may result when the pregnant mother is exposed to cosmic rays. Yes, air travel exposes you to cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are high-energy protons that originate in shock waves from the remnants of supernovas. Radiation from these cosmic rays are present in the atmosphere. The longer the flight, and the closer the flight is to the North Pole instead of a route nearer to the equator, the higher the risk of being exposed to this radiation. This is because at high altitudes, the air is thinner and provides less shield against the radiation, and passengers could receive 100-300 times higher radiation than they do at sea level. This means that the pilots and cabin crew are at an even greater risk. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, they resemble moles but are actually cancerous growths that form due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. According to the Daily Mail, malignant melanoma was found to be two to three times higher than the average male and female, and breast cancer faces are found to be 30 percent higher.
There is also the risk of a parasite infestation. Just imagine, over a 100,000 people have sat in that airplane seat before you. That’s 100,000 people from around the world who have sat in your seat before you, and who knows where they’ve been or what they’ve done. Skin parasites or lice can be passed on through contact with aircraft seats in this way. This probably explains why sometimes before take off, cabin crew would walk down the aisle with insecticide and spray it in the cabin. Airlines are required to do thorough cleaaning of the cabin and other facilities between flights, however precaution must be taken. But be wary of this before you get too warm and snug in your seat.
Research has shown that the likelihood of the above risks are minimal. But although definitely not impossible. It also matters on the frequency at which you fly. If you are a frequent flyer, especially with long haul flights, keep these health hazards in mind the next time your fly. With this education and awareness of these various risks, you can effectively address these problems to make your flight one with less risk to your health. increase our appreciation of being safe during each flight. Don’t let these health risks impede you from enjoying your vacation.
featured image credits: http://www.npr.org/assets/img/2014/09/08/rays.gif