Doctor reveals ‘significant impact’ flying can have on our lungs – and how to stay healthy

By Staff 6 Min Read

Getting on a plane can be exciting, but it can also have a huge impact on your body while in the air – but there are some ways you can protect yourself from severe effects

Do you know what really happens to your body when you fly?

Not only does it just make your ears pop, but hopping on a plane has various impacts on our bodies – especially our lungs. This is due to there being reduced air pressure in the cabin.

While the air pressure inside planes is thought to be around 75 per cent of what we’re used to at sea level, the lower levels of oxygen can create problems for some flyers and with billions of people planning to jet off on holiday this summer, it’s important to know how you can keep healthy while flying.

Medical expert Dr Lawrence Cunningham, a medical expert for UK Care Guide, and former GP explained that healthy passengers won’t have too many issues, as their bodies can just “adapt without severe complications” as reported by The Metro. However, it can be possible for even healthy flyers to experience symptoms of low air pressure.

These can include discomfort, fatigue, an increased heart rate as well as mild shortness of breath. Dr Cunningham has shared some top preventative tips before flying that may make it easier to fly and lower the symptoms of reduced oxygen levels.

The first is to stay hydrated. The doctor said: “The cabin air is quite dry, and dehydration can exacerbate the feeling of breathlessness. I always advise drinking plenty of water before and during the flight.”

Next, he urged passengers to “get up and moving about” during their flight. He explained that doing some slight stretches and movement can help to “promote better circulation” and help to maintain “optimal lung function”.

To help with breathing, the expert also suggested using a saline nasal spray before the flight, as it will help to keep nasal passages moist and “help defend against airborne pathogens”. Lastly, Dr Cunningham said deep breathing exercises are “particularly beneficial” in helping to reduce the effects of cabin pressure and low oxygen.

“These exercises help to improve lung capacity but also help in maintaining calm and reducing anxiety, which can indirectly affect our breathing efficiency. People with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or asthma, might experience worsening symptoms, such as coughing, and difficulty breathing,” the expert shared.

He stated that the low humidity on a plane can dry out airways, and this can have a huge effect on the lungs. This can cause respiratory symptoms, and urged people with these conditions to consult their GP before travelling to “discuss precautions”.

Do you have a story to share? Email [email protected]

Share This Article
Leave a comment