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Travel - Dealing With Air Sickness And Jetlag

Mar 9, 2008
If you dread the idea of air travel because of air sickness and/or jetlag, there are a few precautions you can take to prevent both.

Air Sickness

Generally, air sickness is at its worst on take off and landing. This is due to the steep attitude of the aeroplane, the sudden increase or decrease in speed and height and the fact that the ground is visible and seems to be rushing past. The difference between what one sees and what the "balance" area of the ears is telling one causes the brain to become confused. The sickness can be a physical or psychological reaction to all of this, the latter being caused more by fear than by an actual physical reaction to the conflicting signals being received by the body.

Normally airsickness manifests itself in a feeling of nausea, which may or may not result in actual sickness, as well as sweating, digestive disturbance and the need to swallow much more than normal.

Even pilots and other aircrew suffer from air sickness, which obviously can prevent them from doing their jobs effectively. As a result, studies were made into the problem and the following means of avoiding air sickness were devised.

1. Stress or fear can cause air sickness because an already emotionally disturbed brain has even more difficultly interpreting the conflicting signals from eyes and ears. So try to relax, don't get stressed and if you already have a fear of flying, take a mild sedative an hour before take off is scheduled.

2. A full stomach can contribute to air sickness, so eat and drink sparingly before getting on the 'plane.

3. Once on board, even when the seat belt signs have been turned off, remain in your seat if possible. If your balance is impaired, any sudden motion of the aircraft is likely to cause sickness.

4. Take anti-air sickness tablets in accordance with the instructions on the box or use the special wristbands on sale in many airport terminals, which are said to have a beneficial effect.

5. Try not to think about air sickness because the more you do, the more you are likely to feel sick. Concentrate on a book or film or get some sleep and you'll soon find that you've forgotten about feeling sick.

Jet Lag

Jet lag can be a curse for people who need to travel extensively for their work because sleep patterns become disturbed and business meetings or training sessions become a real test of endurance.

Jet lag really occurs when ones body clock is confused and symptoms include sleeplessness, tiredness, lack of concentration, headaches and a general feeling of disorientation.

Jet lag is usually at its worst when crossing several time zones particularly in an easterly direction, for example from London to Los Angeles. In this instance, say departure from London is 11:00am and the flight is eleven hours long, arrival in Los Angeles will be 2:00pm, whereas ones body clock will think it's 10 o'clock at night and time for bed.

Once again, jet lag can be somewhat psychological. If one is determined to feel jet lagged, then one will! There are a few tricks which help to overcome this problem.

When flying east, get as much sleep as possible. Have a couple of drinks, a meal and relax as if you were having a siesta. Thus when you arrive, you will feel refreshed and better able to last out until a sensible bed time.

Change your watch to the time at your destination; this will help avoid disorientation.

On arrival, try to get some fresh air, have an evening meal at the time you would normally have one (local time) and try not to go to bed before you normally would, say 10:00pm.

Alternatively, if you have been unable to sleep on the 'plane, have a couple of hours sleep at your destination but set an alarm clock so that you don't have too long, which will prevent you sleeping later. Once again, dine and go to bed at your normal time.

If you're traveling for a particularly important event, then it may be best to arrive a couple of days early in order to acclimatise.

Traveling west is much easier as the time at your destination will be ahead of where you started so acclimatisation is not so hard and bed time will arrive that much sooner!
About the Author
Liz Canham Liz is a keen traveler who has lived in a variety of countries as well as enjoying many different holiday experiences. She is webmistress of Travellers' Tales.
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