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Inflight health

Have a safe and comfortable journey with our tips and advice on staying healthy during your flight.

Pressure changes

During take off and when the aircraft is climbing, a reduction in cabin air pressure causes gases to expand. Trapped gases can expand more than 25% compared to sea level. When the aircraft descends, the volume of gas decreases. During this time, trapped air in areas of the body such as the sinuses, ears, and bowels can cause discomfort.

To lessen the effects of this pressure change on your body, avoid carbonated beverages and gas-producing foods like beans and cabbage, and avoid sleeping during the last hour or so of your flight so that you can yawn, swallow, or "pop your ears" to equalize the pressure as the aircraft descends.

The risk of problems with ears and sinuses greatly increases if you are congested or ‘blocked up’ due to a cold. You should consider delaying your flight if you are sick or discuss your condition with your healthcare provider, as decongestant medication may also help.

Eating and drinking

Digestion slows when the body is inactive, so eating lightly will make for a more comfortable flight. It is also best to avoid excessive alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea, as these drinks act as diuretics that increase the need to visit the toilet. Instead, drink juices and water frequently to maintain proper hydration.

Inflight exercises

To stay refreshed during and after a long flight, try performing these in-seat exercises which can also be found in your in-flight magazine every few hours:

  • Foot circles: Circle your feet at the ankles, 20 times each foot.
  • Bottom lifts: Lift one buttock off the seat by tightening the muscles on that side. Hold to the count of 5. Repeat each side 5 times.
  • Knee presses: Press the knees and thighs together and tighten the buttock muscles. Hold to the count of 5. Repeat 5 times.
  • Back presses: Press the small of your back into the seat, letting your shoulders come forward. Alternate with pressing your shoulders into the seat. Repeat 5 times.
  • Shoulder circles: With arms at sides, circle shoulders forward 10 times and then backward 10 times.
  • Head circles: Slowly circle your head in one direction and then the other. Repeat 10 times.
  • Foot presses: Lift heels and press toes into the floor, then lift toes and press heels into the floor. Do this 10 times for each foot.

Motion sickness

Motion sickness is caused when a body’s sense of balance doesn’t match what is being seen, and may worsen during air turbulence. If you are prone to motion sickness, we recommend that you:

  • Request a window seat over the wings
  • Avoid alcohol before and during the flight
  • Avoid dehydration by making sure you drink enough water before and during the flight
  • Eat small, non-spicy meals
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable, cool clothing
  • Keep your eyes fixed on the ground, sea, or horizon if the weather is clear
  • Concentrate on an activity and keep your brain active (but avoid reading if this tends to make your symptoms worse)
  • Locate the air sickness bag when you take your seat and keep it close at hand
  • Discuss the use of appropriate medications with your doctor. There are also many over-the-counter preparations that can be used.

Cabin air quality

Our modern aircraft are quiet and comfortable, with excellent ventilation. The rate of air change in the aircraft cabin has been shown to be better than office buildings and trains and is comparable to that seen in hospital operating theaters.

In addition, all Emirates flights are nonsmoking, so the level of airborne pollutants is far lower than on most city streets or in many buildings. Fresh air is constantly added to air that is recycled through very fine HEPA filters to remove 99.997% of all dust, viruses, fungi, and bacteria.

However, the air in the cabin is low in humidity, which can cause mild drying of the skin, nose, throat, and eyes. To minimize the drying effects, you should:

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Remove contact lenses during your flight
  • Use a moisturizer to hydrate your skin.

Medical Assistance In Flight

Emirates cabin crew are trained to provide first aid in case of onboard medical emergencies.

Our aircraft are equipped with comprehensive medical kits and defibrillators for use by the cabin crew.

Some flights have the latest telemetry equipment so that ground-based medical staff can assess patients while they are still in the air. Please note that passengers are responsible for the cost of any medical care they may require on the ground. Therefore, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in the lower leg. It is not dangerous unless the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs. Immobility is the biggest risk factor for DVT, and it can occur after car, bus, rail, or air travel—or even after sitting in a movie theater.

In fact, a report by the World Health Organization (the WRIGHT report) showed that there is no increased risk for healthy travelers from flying compared to immobility of the same duration during other forms of transport. Follow this general advice for inflight comfort and to reduce the risk of developing DVT:

  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing.
  • Place your luggage in the overhead bins rather than under the seat in front of you. This will allow you to stretch and periodically exercise your feet and ankles.
  • As immobility is a major risk factor in DVT formation, it's advisable to do the recommended in-seat exercises regularly, and take the opportunity to stretch on your way to and from the lavatory.
  • Keep well hydrated with regular intake of juices or water and avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

Some people are more likely than others to develop DVT. Known risk factors associated with DVT are as follows:

  • Age greater than 40
  • Recent major surgery or injury, particularly affecting the lower limbs or abdomen
  • Recent immobilization for a day or more
  • Previous personal or family history of DVT
  • Blood-clotting disorders
  • Certain forms of heart disease
  • Previous history or current history of malignant disease
  • Hormonal treatment including oral contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Varicose veins

If you have any of these risk factors, you should seek advice from your doctor before traveling and discuss the following possible medical precautions:

  • Use of antiembolic stockings or flight socks
  • Anticoagulant medication or other prophylactic measures before flight.