It’s plane as day: flying really can turn you into an airhead
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Wednesday 01 May 2013
Air passengers should avoid making important decisions whilst cruising at altitude, according to Britain’s first professor of aerospace medicine.
Giving his first press conference since his appointment at Kings College, Professor David Gradwell revealed a series of “don’ts” for would-be travellers.
Aircraft cabins are pressurised but only to a level equivalent to that on top of a 6,000 to 8,000ft mountain where the air is thinner and less oxygen reaches the brain. If technology improves to give passengers access to the internet while flying, “it may not be the best place to answer that important email”, he advised.
Don’t fly east if you want to avoid jet lag, he added. Most people tolerate flying west, when the day is lengthened, better. And don’t go indoors on arrival but get out in the daylight – as it is the quickest way to adjust your bodyclock.
Prof Gradwell also advises against sitting still for the entire flight, or rejecting the water offered by the flight attendants, as moving your legs and feet and staying well hydrated are the best defence against deep vein thrombosis, a hazard of long haul flying.
However, don’t waste money on compression stockings – they are supposed to reduce the amount of blood sitting in the veins but there is no evidence they help, he said.
Prof Gradwell also advised that the best way for air passengers to stay safe is to avoid driving themselves to the airport – because crashes are much more likely on the road.
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