Flying Is A Dangerous Way To Travel

Falling out of the sky isn't the only way that aeroplanes can damage your health.
Airlines claim that the statistics show that air travel is one of the safest ways to move around.

Don't believe them.

The airlines only count the people who die or fall seriously ill while in their aeroplanes. They don't count the travellers who fall ill after they have left the airport.

Apart from the fact that passengers are crammed into seats which are too small for safety, the air on aeroplanes is a lending library of germs.

Here are some more health hazards associated with flying:

1.The easiest way to get tuberculosis is to board an aeroplane and simply breathe in the recycled air. Other bugs are commonly redistributed among the passengers. If there is anyone on board with a cold or flu there's a chance that you'll get it too.

2.The radiation on a transatlantic flight is equivalent to what you would get during a chest X-ray.

3. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT for short) affects hundreds of people every year. The risk of DVT is greater in passengers travelling in economy class, who are crammed into seats that would be a tight fit for an anorexic twelve year old. To reduce the risk try clenching your calf muscles at regular intervals to stimulate blood circulation. Don't cross your legs. Walk about frequently. Also, wriggle your feet and massage your lower legs and ankles. Avoid socks and knee-high stockings with tight elastic. And make sure that you drink plenty of water. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks as these can dehydrate the body.

4. The dry air and high air pressure in an aircraft cabin can result in dehydration. The alcohol and coffee they are so determined to get you to drink will just make things worse.

5. The stress of flying is so great that people who have high blood pressure or heart disease are more likely to have strokes and heart attacks while flying.

6. Sitting down for long periods can make your feet and ankles swell - causing pain.

7. When a plane goes up the gas in your lungs expands. If you have asthma the air may not be able to get out easily - causing chest pain. Smoking on planes can cause asthma (and if you travel on airlines which allow smoking you are dramatically increasing your chances of developing cancer.)

8. Pressure on your eardrum can cause pain. (Sucking a sweet or holding your nose and swallowing can help.)

9. Gas expands in the intestine and can cause abdominal pains and exacerbate all the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Anxiety and rushed meals can make things worse. To avoid this problem move around; lean forward and then back or get up and walk about to try and allow the gas to move about in your intestines.

10. Trapped gas in decaying teeth or fillings can cause toothache.

11. If the food or water doesn't poison you there is a risk that you'll be beaten up by a fellow passenger who has drunk too much duty-free booze.

Airlines like to pretend that flying is safe.

Don't believe them. It isn't. Flying makes bull-fighting look risk free.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2003