Dehydration is always a concern, but dehydrating on a plane can have particularly bad results. Three things working against your body’s hydration levels when in the air are:
- Low Humidity – Airline cabins have very low humidity levels, which can cause you to lose more fluids than being in normal indoor conditions. The relative humidity in airline cabins typically ranges from 5% – 12%, and as low as 1% on longer flights; as compared to 35-60% typical indoor humidity.
- Irregular Schedules – For many people, traveling can take you away from your normal routine; disrupting your eating, exercising and sleeping schedule. Even when traveling for pleasure, these disruptions can stress your body, and stress can lead to dehydration. Why? Stress increases your heart rate, which causes you to breathe heavier and lose more fluids.
- Eating on the Run – Do you ever grab meals on the go for your flight? If so, there’s a good chance you’re not eating the good fruits and vegetables that contain dehydration-busting fluids. More water may be needed to compensate for changes in foods consumed.
WHY WORRY ABOUT DEHYDRATION ON A PLANE?
Consider these reasons:
- Common Colds – The low-humidity cabin environment can increase the risk of catching a respiratory virus. And sitting for long periods next to persons with colds or influenza poses additional risks. Drinking sufficient water can help the nasal membranes to retain moisture, which is necessary for the mucous in your airway to do its job by trapping germs trying to enter your body.
- Constipation - Dehydration is one of many reasons that can lead to constipation while traveling. According to Gerard Isenberg, MD, associate chief of gastroenterology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, “there are several reasons why constipation is more common while people travel. One is the change in routine. Due to time differences, the body’s circadian clock is altered, and as a result, the clockwork regularity of having a bowel movement may become suppressed. We may not drink as much fluid as needed, and we become more dehydrated. Also, we tend to eat more fast food and less fiber when traveling.” “Lack of physical activity also plays a role.” (Quote taken from EveryDayHealth.com)
- Fatigue – Dehydration can reduce blood volume and diminish blood flow to the organs, slowing down your brain — and you along with it. Couple this with the low cabin humidity, stationary positioning, and change in normal diet (i.e., flight food) – these can all work together to drag down your mood while on the plane.
- Dry Eyes, Throat and Skin – The plane’s dry air can lead to a scratchy throat, chapped lips, and dry, itchy eyes and skin. Dehydration can worsen these conditions. Therefore it’s important to drink water to keeps your tissues and other organs moist, including your eyes, nasal membranes and skin.
HOW TO STAY HYDRATED IN-FLIGHT
There are a number of simple ways to stay hydrated while you’re airborne. Here are some things to consider:
- Drink plenty of water before and during your trip. It’s a good idea to drink some water before the flight to prepare your body for the dry conditions on the plane. Then continue to hydrate throughout the flight.
- Bring along a water bottle. Bring an empty bottle to the airport and fill it after you clear security. Or purchase bottled water inside the security gate so that you have water available throughout your trip. Re-load with bottled water when refreshments are offered to you on the plane. If beverages are served in cups, ask the flight attendant for an extra cup of water that you can pour into your water bottle to keep for intermittent sipping.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Certain beverages, particularly those containing caffeine and alcohol, can actually have a negative effect on your hydration levels. These substances are considered to be diuretics and therefore should be avoided.
- Pack a couple apples. Eating fruit and vegetables is another easy way to help keep your body hydrated.
- Consider Moisturizers, Eye Drops, Chap Stick and Nasal Spray. These items can be useful to have onboard. Because of airport security 3 ounce rules, it’s probably best to apply moisturizer ahead of time.
The amount you hydrate when airborne can make the difference between feeling great or lousy on your trip. Remember to drink plenty on your next flight, and throughout your trip. Gute Reise!
P.S.: Write us back about your next trip. If you have additional travel advice to add, let us know!
- Preventing Dehydration from Air Travel, EverydayHealth.com
- How to Handle Constipation While Traveling, EverydayHealth.com
Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net