What are some of the risks of flying? What I’m not talking about here is a plane crash, which is very rare. However there are some other, much more common problems.
To begin with, the cabin pressure is set to an altitude between 6000 and 8000 feet. This means that the level of oxygen is about that you would breathe if you were hanging out between 6000 and 8000 feet of elevation. The pressure is gradually adjusted so that as soon as you start flying, you are suddenly experiencing lower oxygen levels.
Yes, the higher the altitude, the lower the oxygen level. For the majority of passengers, this is not a problem. However, if you have COPD (emphysema), congestive heart failure or other serious heart/lung problems, the lower oxygen level may be hard on your heart and or lungs. If the level of oxygen drops enough for such passengers, a heart attack, stroke, seizure or other serious event may occur.
Better to ask your doctor if you have any of these conditions, whether you should bring portable oxygen with you.
If you currently have an ear or sinus infection, then the change in air pressure during the flight may cause severe pain and can even lead to a ruptured ear drum. Taking a Sudafed might help prevent this. However, Sudafed can cause high blood pressure and even strokes.
I love to scuba dive. When you dive, the deeper you go, the more nitrogen you breathe in due to the physics of delivering oxygen. If you fly the same day that you dive, you run the risk of getting the bends, which occurs when nitrogen bubbles up in your blood. This of course can lead to dangerous problems including death.
Blood clots are also more common after plane flights. You don’t move as much, the level of oxygen is lower and the air pressure lower as well. So your blood in your leg veins can form a clot. And this clot at times can travel to your lungs. This is called a oulmonary embolism. Not a good thing. To reduce the risks of blood clots during plane flights, try getting up, moving around, doing a few knee bends to keep that blood moving.
If you want to go somewhere fast and exotic you just have to fly there. Remember some of the risks and have a great time!