Whether you're a travel enthusiast or not, anyone who has ever flown before knows that weird things can happen to your body when you fly. When you're actually sitting on a plane, you might not even realize the effect the flight is having on you — but it totally makes an impact. Sure, everyone knows that when you fly into a new time zone or have to catch a red-eye flight, you're likely to feel exhausted for a day or two; jet lag is no fun. But what a lot of people don't realize is that not only can flying can actually affect the way your body functions and feels.
Of course, if you have real fears about flying, or have specific medical concerns that can cause complications while flying, don't hesitate to talk to a medical professional before you hit the skies. Your health and comfort is super important, even if other people don't face the same challenges you do when it comes to flying. When it comes to your body, knowledge is always power; knowing how your trip might affect your body before you board might help you better predict and handle the possible side effects of being in the air.
That said, though, even your average, everyday human experiences some pretty weird things while flying. Here are five of them:
1. Your Taste Buds Become Dull
We've all heard the running jokes that airline food is bland and tasteless, but some research shows that it might not actually be the food that's at fault. A 2010 study conducted by Lufthansa suggests that when you fly, the dry air in the plane can cause your nasal mucus to evaporate and your membranes to swell, both of which can impact your taste buds. In the same study, researchers found that when we're in the air, our perceptions of sweet and saltiness can drop by as much as 30 percent. No wonder our food tastes bland when we're flying.
2. Air Pressure Can Impact Your Teeth
According to Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S., writing for the Huffington Post, changes in air pressure that occur during a flight can cause tiny pockets of gas to get trapped within your dental fillings or areas of decay, which can result in a whole lot of pain. I for one had never considered how flying can impact my teeth, but this is one factoid that isn't going to leave my mind!
3. Your Skin Loses Moisture
If you've ever walked off of a flight and wondered if your skin felt unusually dry and tight, you're not alone. Between the dry, recirculated air and the cabin pressure, moisture leaves the skin of most people while they're flying. While you can always apply lotion or other products to your skin, hydration is actually key here, not only to add moisture back to your skin, but also for your overall health. So drink plenty of water while you're in the air!
4. Flying May Cause Gas To Expand In Your Body
As planes rise and cabin pressures drop, it's common for gas to spread through our intestines. Gas fluctuations in your body can become painful and cause bloating, so it's important to relieve yourself in the bathroom if you experience this. Interestingly, these gas fluctuations can also impact your ears. You know how you feel the need to "pop" your ears when flying? That's generally due to the air not pressuring properly, due to the aforementioned gas fluctuations.
5. Flying Exposes You To UV Rays
Some scientific studies have actually revealed some real risks in flying when it comes to your skin. In a study that looked at cases of melanoma in flight attendants and pilots, researchers discovered that flight crews have more than double the chance of developing melanoma than the general population. The study suggests that this may be because when you're flying, you're exposed to stronger UV rays and the windows in planes may not sufficiently protect you from them. Don't forget the sunblock!