Your Body On Air Travel

Air travel today is pretty much a common event in most peoples lives.  Some travel by air multiple days a week for business whereas others travel on family vacations.  Whatever reason you may choose to travel by air, there are a few things you need to know about what it is doing to your body.

Low Oxygen

When you travel in an airplane the onboard pressure is equalized for the trip.  However, the amount of oxygen drops to that of being at an altitude of 6,000 to 8,000.  With the this thinning out of oxygen you will experience the symptoms of hypoxia including headaches and sleepiness.

Image: ECDC

Pooling of Blood

When sitting in tight areas for extended lengths of time as in air travel, the blood flow in your legs slows down tremendously.  Your veins become constricted and the blood has trouble flowing at a normal rate.  This, in turn, can cause a DVT—deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot, which in many cases can prove to be deadly.

Image: Fort Wayne Dept of Health


The source for oxygen during air flight comes from outside the plane itself.  When traveling at the altitudes that are necessary, the available oxygen has little to no moisture present.   The lack of proper moisture in the air will quickly lead to dehydration, which coupled with the cabin pressure will bring on a feeling of extreme fatigue.  It is well advised to drink plenty of water during your flight to remain well hydrated.

Cabin Pressure

Fluctuation in cabin pressure occurs multiple times throughout a flight.   As the pressure increases and decreases your body feels the change and the end result is flatulence.  Although many find the process rude and unacceptable, you have to realize that when the pressure changes in the plane, so does the pressure in your body.

Image: Reader’s Digest

Ear Popping

Cabin pressure is the primary factor when experiencing ear popping.  As the airplane takes off and lands, the pressure will build up in the inner ear.  Chewing gum can help a lot with this uncomfortable sensation.  You could also try repeatedly swallowing and yawning.  If this does help most people get relief by covering their nose and mouth and exhaling, thereby forcing the air from their lungs to exit through their ears.

In today’s world, air travel is pretty much a given.  However, if you travel by air often, it is best to know what effect it is having on your body so that you can do what you can to counteract any possible problems or discomfort.