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    Traveling comfortably in an airplane:

    • Chewing gum, yawning or sucking on hard candies can help to relieve the pressure that builds up in your ears as the airplane ascends and descends. If you have a cold, talk to your doctor about using a decongestant or nasal spray before boarding to help relieve the pressure.
    • Drink plenty of water while onboard the aircraft to avoid becoming dehydrated during the flight.
    • Do light stretching exercises in your seat and walk through the cabin frequently (when safe to do so).
    • Consult your physician if you suffer from air sickness; he or she may be able to prescribe medication for this. 
    • The relatively low humidity in the cabin can make allergy or asthma symptoms worse; take preventative measures as necessary.

    Combating Jet Lag

    Try a few of these techniques for a natural way to reset your internal clock:

    • Reset your watch to the destination's time as soon as you get on the plane. If it's daytime at your destination, try to stay awake during the flight. Walking around the cabin may help keep you alert. If it's nighttime, try to sleep. You may find it helpful to use ear plugs and a sleeping mask to block out distractions on the plane.
    • Eat before you get on the plane so that hunger does not prevent you from sleeping during the flight. Inform the flight attendant that you will not be eating so that you are not awakened for a meal.
    • If you're using a blanket, buckle your seat belt over the blanket so that you are not awakened by a flight attendant checking seat belts.
    • If it's daytime when you arrive, but nighttime at home, don't sleep. Instead, try doing some light exercise like walking to help revive your body and stop it from producing sleep-inducing hormones.

    Flying during pregnancy

    It is commonly recommended that women not fly at all during their last six weeks of pregnancy. Northwest Airlines' policy states that pregnant passengers traveling within 30 days of expected delivery must provide a doctor's statement dated within 72 hours of departure indicating the due date and indicating that air travel does not pose a health risk. Women in labor will be denied boarding for safety reasons.

    Pregnant women should always consult their obstetricians or midwives before traveling. Traveling during the second trimester of pregnancy is often easier as morning sickness will most likely have subsided, energy levels are up and you are still a comfortable distance from your due date. Here are some additional tips for staying comfortable on your flight:

    • Reserve an aisle seat so that you can easily access the bathroom and move about the cabin. Getting up and walking regularly will help combat swelling and discomfort.
    • Bring a copy of your medical records and ask your doctor for a referral in case of an emergency while you are away.
    • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes and flat shoes. Wear layers if you are prone to body-temperature fluctuations.
    • Keep your seatbelt low around your hips, not around your abdomen.
    • Get a small pillow from the flight attendant and place it under your lower back to avoid back strain.
    • Drink plenty of water-at least one liter for every two hours in flight.

    What you need to know about blood clots while flying

    Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)- blood clots has been blamed for several deaths among long-haul airline passengers. DVT is not specifically linked to air travel however, is found to be linked to situations where people are immobile. The clots are dangerous when they block vessels in the leg or lungs.

    Some people are more susceptible to developing DVT than others. Here are some factors that would indicate a higher risk of developing DVT:

    • If you have had DVT before or if DVT runs in your family.
    • When you have recently undergone surgery or have been wounded, especially in the abdomen and/or the legs.
    • If you have varicose veins or heart failure or are obese.
    • If you are dehydrated.
    • If you smoke.
    • If you are pregnant.
    • If you are undergoing estrogen therapy (this includes the use of estrogen pills).
    • If you have been sitting in the same position for more than 24 hours.
    • If you have deviations in your hemogram that could result in a higher risk of blood clotting.
    • If you are older than 40.
    • If one of these factors applies to you, you would be wise to consult your physician before the flight.

    Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include

    • Tenderness and redness in the affected areas
    • Fever
    • Sudden, unexplained cough
    • Pain and swelling in areas drained by the vein where the blood clot is located
    • Joint pain and soreness

    Health & Exercise Advice

    • Drink plenty of water
    • Keep your circulation going by walking up and down the aisles when you can, wiggle your toes and flex your ankles.  You may also want to try the following exercises.  Note: Do not perform these exercises if they cause you any pain or are difficult for you to do

        • Ankle turns: Lift your feet off the floor and move your toes in a circle, one foot moving clockwise and the other foot moving counter-clockwise.  Then change direction.  Move about 15 seconds in each direction.

          • Foot lifts: Place your heels on the floor and bring your toes up as high as you can.  Then put both feet back flat on the floor. Pull your heels up while keeping the balls of your feet on the floor. Do this exercise in a series of 30 seconds each.

            • Knee lifts: While keeping your knee bent, raise your leg while tensing your thigh muscle. Then do the same with your other leg. Repeat 20 to 30 times.

              • Shoulder circles: Raise your shoulders up and then move them forward, downward and then backward in a smooth circular movement.

                • Arm bends: Start with your elbows on the armrest and your hands pointed forward so that your lower and upper arms make a 90-degree angle. Take turns moving your left and then your right hand to your chest and back down again. do this exercise in a series of 30 seconds each.

                  • Knee to chest: Bend slightly forward. Fold your hands together around your left knee and pull your knee toward your chest. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then let your knee drop while still keeping your hands around your knee. Change legs. Repeat this ten times.

                    • Forward bends: Place both feet on the floor and pull your abdomen in. Then bend slowly forward and "walk" your fingers along your shinbone to your ankles. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then sit up again slowly.

                      • Upper body stretch: Stretch both arms high over your head. With your right hand, grab your left wrist and pull this slowly to the right. Hold this position for 15 second and then change arms.

                        • Shoulder stretch: With your right hand, grab your left elbow and pull your outstretched left arm slowly toward your right shoulder. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then change arms.

                          • Neck roll: Relax your shoulders, let your head drop to your right shoulder and rool your head to the front and then to your left side. Hold each position for about five seconds. Repeat five times.

                        Traveling with Children

                        The following tips should help both parents and kids arrive at their destination with smiles on their faces.

                        • If you have a long trip scheduled, "red-eye" flights may be best. This increases the chance that your youngster will be able to sleep through the majority of the trip.
                        • While any child under two is not required to have their own seat, they may be happier if they do. Purchase a ticket for your infant as well, and use a FAA certified car seat.
                        • If you do use a car seat, make sure it has been certified for air travel.
                        • Bring toys your children have never used -- the newness will hold their attention longer.
                        • Bring plenty of juice. Air travel can be dehydrating, especially for children.
                        • Wrap up "surprises" for your children to pull out when they get especially restless.
                        • Finger foods are a great distraction.
                        • When traveling with your baby, give him/her a bottle or pacifier to suck on during takeoff and landing. This will help equalize the ear pressure and keep your baby comfortable.


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