The symptoms of hypertension tend to worsen at high altitudes. This makes air travel especially challenging for such patients. Here are a few dos and don’ts that hypertension patients need to remember during travels.
Inform airline or on-board staff of your condition before take off
Airlines do not allow personal oxygen tanks to be taken on board. However, they do provide it on board to passengers who need it. You should inform the airline of your medical condition and need for an oxygen tank when you book your flight or inform the flight crew when you are boarding the plane.
Consult your doctor before the trip
If you suffer from hypertension, you would need to consult your doctor about a change in medication before making travel plans. This consultation would tell you if you need to ask the airline for therapeutic oxygen.
Flex your limbs and move around often
Flexing your limbs periodically during the flight and getting up and moving about the cabin as often as permitted can help travelers with hypertension avoid hypoxia. Also, try to include some breathing exercises in your on-board activity routine on longer haul flights.
Don’t take flights against doctor’s orders
If your doctor doesn’t permit it, you shouldn’t travel as medication may not be enough to combat the additional stress of travel especially if your hypertension symptoms tend to worsen with travel. If travel is absolutely unavoidable, try taking the train or a bus or just take shorter connecting flights instead of a long haul one.
Don’t indulge in salty snacks
Salty snacks encourage fluid retention which may result in swelling of the limbs and increase blood pressure. If you must eat salt, ask for low sodium salt or ask your airline if you would be permitted to carry some onboard.
Don’t use sedatives and alcohol
Sedatives and alcohol also promote fluid retention so if you avoid them, you would also be able to avoid swelling and the resulting pain. If you tend to suffer from anxiety during flights, you should ask your doctor for a prescription sedative instead of using an over-the-counter pill.
Do not cross your legs
Hypoxia symptoms usually begin to appear if hypertension patients sit with their legs crossed aboard flights. For long haul flights, this might feel a little unavoidable especially if you are used to sitting with your legs crossed. But you should make a conscious effort to avoid this.