Tips for Flying with High Blood Pressure
Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.
High blood pressure is one of the most common health conditions throughout the world. It is estimated that almost 25% of the world's population suffers from blood pressure fluctuations. Hypertension affects the ability to perform daily life activities. It might also make travel harder than it should be, as people with high blood pressure have to plan their vacation more thoroughly.
Visit Your Physician 2 to 4 Weeks Before Your Trip
The easiest and most reliable way to determine whether traveling poses a threat to your health is to talk to your GP. You may need to have several tests to adjust the dose of your blood pressure medications.
It is particularly important to check your ECG, blood test results and perform other diagnostic tests if you had a heart attack or stroke less than a year ago in addition to high blood pressure.
Check Your Immunization Records
Depending on your destination, you may need to repeat your vaccinations. People with high blood pressure are at increased risk of developing complications from COVID-19, the flu, and other infections. Therefore, ask your healthcare provider to check your immunization schedule as some vaccines might need to be updated.
If you travel internationally, you should check the CDC website to find out what vaccinations are required for the countries you are visiting.
Keep Your Blood Pressure Under Control
The third important point after visiting your physician is to check the performance of your BP monitor. It will definitely come in handy during your trip to keep track of your blood pressure levels.
Carry Essential Medicines in Your Hand Luggage
Oxygen levels are always low when a plane takes off. People with hypertension (high blood pressure) tend to experience unpleasant symptoms during flights. However, having high blood pressure does not stop most people from flying, especially when they take proper precautions.
Avoid stress and negative emotions. Listening to your favorite music, reading books, or doing meditation and simple breathing techniques (5 finger breathing technique) can help you relax.
Pack all your vital medicines in your hand luggage and take them before the flight. This way, you will have immediate access to emergency medication and no problems with checked baggage.
If you have long-term high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend wearing compression socks while flying. We encourage you to follow this advice.
Avoid drinking any alcohol before and during the flight.
Take Extra Supplies of Medications Before Traveling
If you are going on a long trip, ask your physician for a prescription for purchasing additional supplies of medicines. It will protect you from unforeseen situations in case you stay longer than expected.
Besides, you should write down all medicines you take, including the name of each medicine, exact dosage, and timing. This information will help medical professionals quickly provide urgent care outside the hotel.
Check Whether Your Insurance Covers Medical Care While Traveling
Before your trip, contact your insurance company to find out if they provide coverage or reimbursement for medical expenses you incur while traveling. If not, consider buying separate travel insurance before leaving on your trip.
Choose Low Sodium Foods
Sodium chloride, also known as table salt, is made of sodium and chlorine. Sodium attracts water and causes fluid retention, increasing its volume in intravascular space. Thus, high sodium intake can cause high blood pressure.
High sodium foods include ham, bacon, tongue, sausages, smoked fish, tomato sauce, tomato juice, most cereals, biscuits, certain cheeses, olives, canned vegetables, pizza, and chips.
Foods that contain moderate amounts of sodium: baked goods, margarine, some cheeses (like ricotta), and specific types of mineral water.
Low sodium products: rice, coffee, tea, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, fresh meat, poultry, fish, and nuts.
Watch Out For Hot Weather And Drink Plenty of Fluids
Oxygen concentrations are much lower in the air during the summer months. Hot weather makes blood vessels dilate, quickening breathing and heart rate. Blood pressure is also affected by hot temperatures that cause shortness of breath and dizziness. The most dangerous time of the day for patients with high blood pressure is between noon and 4 pm. The atmospheric oxygen level decreases drastically during this period.
Self-massage is a simple way to keep your body comfortable on hot days. Place your palms on the bridge of the nose and gently glide them towards the temples. Massage the sides of your face, starting at your forehead and moving down toward your chin. Then, focus on the back of the head and neck, sliding your hands from the base of your skull to the shoulder blades. Use a circular motion to rub your fingertips into your temples.
A rise in body temperature results in heat loss due to excessive sweating. Therefore, it is essential to stay well-hydrated.
Planning your trip may need to put in time and effort, but your health and comfort are well worth investing in. Have a safe trip!
Learn More About High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
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