Jet Lag

Jet Lag The longer your flight the more likely you are to suffer problems. Flights going eastwards usually seem to cause more problems than flights travelling westward.

1. Unless you cannot survive without a cigarette avoid the smoking section on planes. Smoke will dry out your sinuses, affect your eyes and produce a variety of other symptoms. The air inside a plane is already unusually dry - smoke makes it worse.

2. Avoid heavy meals before and during travel. Light snacks are much better for you.

3. Avoid drinks such as tea and coffee which contain caffeine. Flying tends to cause dehydration and caffeine makes this worse.

4. If you are flying at night take ear plugs and a mask with you and try to sleep during the flight.

5. Drink lots of water or fruit juice during the flight - that's what pilots do to help them keep fresh and alert. Avoid alcohol - it's likely to make you feel worse.

6. Use plenty of moisturising cream on your skin before flying. The dry air inside a plane can make the skin dry and itchy.

7. Suck peppermints during your flight. The pressure inside aicraft cabins is low and this means that any gas inside your intestines will expand. This can be very painful. Peppermint helps to reduce the pain and discomfort.

8. If you suffer from sinus troubles or have a cold swallow frequently to even out the pressure in your sinuses. If you feel pain developing in your ears or sinuses hold your nose and blow very gently. You might need to take a decongestant two hours before flying or use a nasal spray or drops before the plane descends.

9. Try to get up and walk about once an hour on long flights. If you can't do that then at least make sure that you move your feet and legs at regular intervals to help keep blood moving around your body. Blood clots are among the commonest cause of death among travellers - and sitting still for long periods makes them more likely. Why the media only seem to have discovered this fact recently I cannot imagine. I've been warning about this for around twenty years.

10. Make no plans at all for the first 24 hours after your plane touches down. Just take things easy. Keep strenuous, exciting or demanding activities for later in your trip.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2003