Alcohol on the air may appear to be the zenith of luxury, with movies and TV shows romantising this ‘opulent debauchery’. Some would even argue that it’s downright surreal, going tipsy on clouds, swirling wine at 40,000 feet, and dozing off like a baby. Too consumed in our chase to conquer and muzzle everything with technology, we forget that science didn’t evolve our bodies into hulks; we are still the same, at the mercy of our internal body functions. A new study finds that alcohol consumption on flight has life-altering side effects on the body.

Don’t drink and fly, new study finds shocking side effects. Here’s how you can keep your health in check when you fly next time.

Alcohol reduces oxygen in blood on air

The medical Journal Thorax published a new study that revealed how in-flight alcohol consumption is dangerous. They found out that when people fall asleep after consuming alcohol, their heart rate increases and blood pressure plummets, even among young passengers without any serious medical history. It’s particularly fatal for passengers with cardiac issues. Blood oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) crash due to the combined exposure of alcohol and hypobaric conditions (high altitude.) This condition creates hypobaric hypoxia, a state of low oxygen supply in the brain at higher altitudes, and can be life-threatening.

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Tips to stay healthy on flights

Although the in-built cabin pressure on a flight is safe for humans, we are bound to feel discomfort since the cabin pressure is similar to being 8000 feet high- like atop a mountain. It is imperative to take necessary precautions and plan ahead to avoid the possibility of any adverse effects.

Hydrate

Plane cabins have low humidity, making our mouths feel dry. Frequent water intake is a must on the air, even if you have to take frequent bathroom trips. Caffeine and sugary drinks make dehydration worse.

Walk around

Not ideal for your co-passengers and cabin crew on a plane, but it’s essential for your body. Being immobile for long flights increases the chance of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also called “economy-class syndrome,” a blood clot in veins in the legs. Frequent bathroom trips (as said earlier) are good for a nice long stretch, or even flexing the calves and twisting the hip joints to get the blood flowing. Stretch your upper body limbs and neck too.

Moisturise your skin

Low humidity in the cabin can make your skin feel very dry, especially the long flights. It’s recommended to moisturise and hydrate your skin and lips with facial tissues, sprays, and lip balms.

Carry neck pillow

Sleeping on a flight can be uncomfortable, straining the neck at awkward angles and positions. Neck pain is inevitable from those disastrous angles. To avoid all this discomfort, carry a travel neck pillow to comfortably and safely snooze off.

Chew gums

Chewing gum helps combat the much-dreaded airplane ear pop. While ascending or descending, the change in pressure in the cabin leads to a sharp, uncomfortable pain in the ear. Chewing or sucking on gum or candy accumulates saliva in the mouth. Swallowing this saliva clears the blocked ear.

Layer up

Dressing is a personal choice, but keep in mind that cabin temperatures can be freezing cold.