The scary things that happen to your body during a long-haul flight

FLYING can leave passengers feeling pretty awful, with long-haul journeys in particular having some negative effects on the human body.

But why? What is happening to our bodies in the air to make us feel so grim, and how can we avoid it?

Long-haul flights can have several negative effects on our bodies


Long-haul flights can have several negative effects on our bodiesCredit: Getty

Two of the most common effects of a long-haul flight are jet lag and at the more extreme end, blood clots.

But there are measures people can take to avoid both.

Jet lag

One of the more common side effects of travelling is jet lag, with passengers’ bodies struggling to adapt to new time zones.

Longer flights means there’s more of a gap between a person’s body clock and the time of the country they’re in.

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It can sometimes take a few days for the body to recalibrate to the time at their new destination, but there are a few things that people can do to make it less of a problem.

Travel experts at have revealed their best tips for avoiding jet lag, so you can acclimatise to your new destination as quickly as possible.

The main advice from the experts is to adjust to the local time when you board the plane.

They suggest eating and sleeping as if it’s the time at your destination from the moment you board.

Having your meals at the times you will be once you arrive can help your body adjust, making it easier for you to get your body in sync.

They even suggest eating before you get on your plane if you can, if it fits better with your new schedule.

Sleep is an important part of acclimatising too.

If you’re arriving at your destination in the morning, maximising the amount of sleep on the plane is the priority to make sure you are fresh when you arrive, if you need to be.

However, if you are landing in the evening, then it’s best to sleep when you arrive, at the same time as the locals.

Blood clots

Long-haul flights increase a passenger’s chance of developing deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots.

DVT is a serious medical condition that occurs when someone gets a blood clot (a sticky mass of blood cells) in a vein that is deep below the skin.

It usually occurs in the leg and tends to affect thick veins that run through the muscles of the calf or the thigh.

When you are inactive, your blood tends to collect in your lower body, your calf muscles for example.

If you are inactive for a substantial length of time your blood can slow down significantly increasing your risk of DVT.

Sitting on a plane is the perfect environment for deep-vein thrombosis, particularly in people who are older or overweight.

On flights shorter than four hours, the risk of DVT is low – happening once every 106,667 flights.

But on longer haul trips that risk soars to one ever 4,656 flights – reaching one every 1,264 flights for those journeys over 16 hours.

However, there are things people can do to avoid DVT, such as moving their feet regularly, or wearing compression socks.

They work by applying gentle pressure to the muscles in the lower legs.

They can increase blood flow and in turn reduce the chances of getting DVT, oedemas and other problems.

There is a clever foot trick using the alphabet that can also keep the blood flowing during a flight if unable to stand regularly.

Emirates flight attendant Lauren Guilfoyle spoke to Reader’s Digest to explain how the technique worked.

She said: “Motion each letter of the alphabet with your foot to get the blood flowing and avoid ankle swelling.”

This is important especially on long flights as DVT can be caused by staying inactive for long period of time without doing any leg exercises.

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Meanwhile, wearing tight clothes on planes can increase your chances of getting DVT.

And your choice of seat can affect whether or not you feel unwell during a flight.

Jet land and DVT are two common problems that can come from long-haul flying


Jet land and DVT are two common problems that can come from long-haul flyingCredit: Getty


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