Although travel can be fun, according to the Madrid College of Psychologists, it can also expose the traveller to obvious and hidden dangers, which can lead to illness or aggravate existing health problems. Lack of sleep, combined with stress, dehydration, increased levels of exertion, musculoskeletal strains and changing health care delivery systems can all affect the traveller, but some disorders are caused by the process of moving from one part of the world to another. Thus, the four most common conditions caused by travel are:
- Rhinitis: Allergic rhinitis is a disease that causes an itchy nose, sneezing, excessive discharge and nasal obstruction. Symptoms are often seasonal and are triggered by various factors such as pollen, dust, altered environmental temperature and cigarette smoke.
- Sinusitis: Acute or chronic sinusitis is a contraindication for flying because of infection and the risk of sinus obstruction. It can lead to complications on landing or if depressurisation occurs. Severe migraines, facial, orbital or central nervous system pain and nosebleeds can occur if flying under these conditions.
- Pneumonia: Travel is not recommended for passengers with contagious lung infections (tuberculosis and pneumonia) because of the risk of worsening symptoms, complications during and after the flight and the risk of spreading the disease to other passengers. In order to fly, the traveller must have improved symptoms, no fever and adequate lung function. In case of tuberculosis, in addition to clinical improvement, the sputum smear test result must be negative.
- Asthma: Bronchial asthma is the most common respiratory disease among travellers, being incapacitating for flight in severe and unstable cases and recent hospitalisation. Asthmatics should always carry their medication, especially bronchodilators, in their hand luggage. In emergencies, consult your doctor for advice.
- Chronic bronchitis and emphysema: People with chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema have a reduced ability to oxygenate the blood, which is aggravated during the flight. Therefore, these travellers should seek specialist medical advice for tests to check whether oxygen support is necessary during the flight.