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AIR TRAVEL & JETLAG
Most commercial jetliners are pressurised to about 1600 to 2300 m. Above 1600 m there is a
risk of hypoxia (low oxygen), especially if the traveller is anaemic or has
respiratory problems. The traveller, as a minimum, should be able to climb a
flight of stairs without problem at sea level. Carbonated drinks
are best avoided as they may cause gaseous distension which can be uncomfortable.
A particular problem of long haul air travel is deep vein
thrombosis (blood clot in the legs). Sitting in a cramped position for a long period
favors the development of thrombosis. Take an aisle seat and stand up and walk about the
cabin regularly. Tense up your legs and wriggle your toes from time to time. see
murtagh - Air
Travel - Preventing DVT & Hangover
The low humidity in aircraft may cause skin
dryness and discomfort of the eyes, mouth and nose but does not cause dehydration.
(see WHO). Fluids containing
alcohol (or caffeine) may cause dehydration. Taking half an aspirin daily has
not been shown to reduce the risk of thrombosis (blood clot) occurring in
the legs. Those who have a past history of deep vein thrombosis should consider
the use of injectable low
molecular heparin. Discuss this with your doctor.
Remember to pack any medications you may need in
your hand luggage. (sleeping tabs, headache & arthritis remedies). An
inflatable travel pillow can be help with ensuring some sleep on the plane. Buy
a large bottle of water at the airport before boarding. Don't rely on the flight
attendants to provide you with adequate fluids.
(also Air travel and Cruise ships - http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentAirTravelCruiseShips.aspx )
Ideally, have a couple of good nights
rest before travel and avoid last minute preparation and stress (panic). Wear
loose comfortable clothes on the plane and follow advice above. Crossing
multiple time zones in an eastward direction, increases jetlag.
If the arrival at your destination is in the early morning, try to stay awake and have the normal 3 meals and include a long
afternoon walk in the sunshine. These strategies will help your body time clock
to adjust to the new time zone. It may not be appropriate to drive or make
important decisions in the first few days.
The Use of Melatonin: melatonin has been shown in some studies to speed up
the recovery from symptoms of jet lag. It is suggested that melatonin is taken
in the evening (10-11pm) for few days after arrival. A dose between 0.5mg and
5mg is sufficient.
One of the most popular travel sickness medications for travellers is "Travcalm".
This is a combination of an antihistamine and hyoscine. Other agents such as
"Stemetil" and "Maxolon' are available on script from your
see Travel Sickness sheet - www.nevdgp.org.au/info/murtagh/general/Travelsickness.htm
A Non medicinal approach that many find effective
is the use of a cassette tape containing "A unique blend of music, specific
frequencies and pulses." www.travelwell.co.uk/travelwell.htm
Information mostly taken from: "International
Travel and Health" (WHO year book -
Australian Immunisation Handbook, 8th Edition - 9/2003 - Part1 - Part 2 & Part 3 (large pdf
Centre for Disease Control, USA - www.cdc.gov/travel Travel Health Seminar Oct 96, June 97,Feb 98, March 99, May 2000, August 2002 &
March 2005 - Victorian Medical Postgraduate Foundation.
Manual of Travel Medicine,
Melbourne, Oct 2004.
Updated 06/09/2006. Additional references & disclaimer.