This Is What Flying Really Does To Your Body

We have all been dreaming of our summer holidays for months now, but there’s one thing we’re certainly not looking forward to, and that is the flight there.

With the lack of legroom, terrible food, and being trapped in a metal tube of germs for several hours, it rarely feels like the most glamourous way to travel.

But do you know exactly what the aeroplane is doing to you physically? Airport Parking and Hotels have shared six things that your body is going through at 39,000 feet.

Dizziness and headaches

Hypoxia is the medical name for when your tissues are deprived of oxygen - a very mild form of which can occur when you’re in the air. With air pressure in the cabin similar to what you’d expect to find at 8,000 feet above sea level, your lungs have to work much harder than normal to take in the same amount of oxygen.

Bad breath

Because of the dry conditions in the cabin, your mouth can dry out quickly during a flight, causing bacteria to grow on your tongue. To combat this, drink lots of water and pack an emergency tooth brush.

Swollen ankles and DVT

Low pressure in the cabin also means that the distribution of fluids in the body changes too. Sitting in one position for a long period of time increases pressure on the veins in your legs, causing your feet and ankles to swell up.

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Reduced taste

Cabin pressure has a lot to answer for in terms of changing how your body works, especially when it comes to taste. The dry cabin air dries out your nasal passages and your taste buds, reducing your ability to taste. So while we aren’t claiming that plane meals are secretly haute cuisine, just remember it isn’t all the food’s fault.


This generally doesn’t happen on short-haul flights, but passengers who are on longer journeys are prone to affecting their bowel movements. This is because our metabolic and digestive systems slow down during long periods of sitting. To speed them up, try drinking water and move your body from side to side in a twisting motion.


It often seems confusing that after spending hours sitting down, doing nothing, that we all feel exhausted. But jet lag and fatigue are common side effects of travelling, even if you aren’t changing time zones (although this obviously makes things worse). Keep hydrated and eat meals at regular intervals.