How to avoid feeling blah the next time you fly

WASHINGTON – The stress of traveling for work or fun can take a lot out of you even before you arrive at your destination. So why do plane rides make some many passengers feel lousy?

Our bodies don’t like rapid changes in air pressure or extremely low humidity – both common factors on passenger flights. But low oxygen levels likely contribute the most to your misery while flying.

Modern jets pressurize cabins to simulate air pressure of 8,000 feet, which is like standing on a mountain in the Rockies.

A doctor and long time pilot tells that sitting on a plane’s simulated mountaintop for six hours or more can cause blood oxygen levels to drop by 5 to 10 percent. Remaining seated the whole flight decreases circulation so your brain gets even less oxygen.

The lack of oxygen can make passengers feel tired or dull their thinking.

Help counter the affects by walking around, try sitting leg exercises, avoid alcohol, and take aspirin to help improve blood flow.

Low humidity on planes can dehydrate passengers causing dry mouth, headaches or dizziness.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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