So, you may not actually be traveling to Grandmas’ house via a horse-drawn sleigh as the song relates however most people will be flying the friendly skies during this holiday season. While flying is the fastest and easiest mode of transportation, it does often get mixed reviews: Some people love it, others, not so much. Cabin pressure often causes some people to experience ear pain and even dizziness: Two reasons why some people will avoid flying at all costs. There are, however, certain preventative measures that can be taken in order to ensure you arrive at your destination with sanity intact.
- Eat a well-balanced meal before you board the plane. If you have ever eaten airplane food, then you know why I am suggesting you eat BEFORE you board. Enough said.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Some of us have had the misfortune of witnessing other passengers use the opportunity as an excuse to become intoxicated. This is not entertaining, especially if you are on an early morning flight.
- If you experience ear pain when flying, take a decongestant such as Sudafed (or any other brand as long as it contains pseudoephedrine) before boarding the plane. Some people find that chewing gum also relieves the pressure in their airs.
- If you experience dizziness and/or nausea while flying, then you might not have followed my advice about limiting your alcohol intake. Seriously, if you typically experience nausea and dizziness during flights, take Dramamine about 30 minutes before boarding. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure this over-the-counter medication does not interfere with other medications you may be taking at the time.
- Take care of your legs. You do not have to be elderly in order for a blood clot to form in your leg. Even a healthy person can get a blood clot in his or her leg, especially after a lengthy flight. As long as you have been given the go-ahead to move about the airplane, use the opportunity to stretch your legs and walk the aisle every so often during your flight. Stay well hydrated. If you drink plenty of water during a flight you actually kill two birds with one stone: You will stay hydrated and you will avoid blood clots by walking to the bathroom every ten minutes. Also, stretching calf muscles while seated and wearing support hose can also help prevent clots from forming.
- If your physician recommends that you take oxygen with you on the plane, make sure you make this known when booking your flight. Most airlines will allow the use of their oxygen for the duration of the flight. Check with your carrier about details such as cost, and whether the expense will be picked up by your insurance company. Current federal air regulations do not allow passengers to carry on their own oxygen units, so arrangements must be made ahead of time. Special dietary needs may also be accommodated, but it is recommended you make prior arrangements at the time you book your flight. The same is true if you need to use a wheelchair to travel through the airport.
Other Safety Tips
- Make sure you pack all current medications in your carry-on luggage for easy access. Remember to call in any refills before you leave for your vacation to ensure you have enough medication to last until you get home. You may even want to pack extra medication in case there is a delay in your flight home. If you are flying to another time zone, ask your doctor if your dosages will change.
- Carry with you an identification card if you have diabetes, like the Diabetes Alert Card from the American Diabetes Association, or epilepsy. Make sure to include all of your information, including the name and telephone number of your physician, as well as any emergency contact numbers. Also, write down a list of the names of your medications as well as their dosages.
- Stay hydrated during your flight. Cabin air is very dry, so drink plenty of water, limit alcohol intake and avoid caffeine while flying, in order to avoid dehydration.
- It is not safe to fly immediately after you have gone scuba diving. It is recommended that you wait at least 12 to 24 hours before boarding an airplane. If your holiday plans include this activity, check with your doctor or diving authority for their recommendations.
Enjoy your flight!
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!