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Surprising Health Issues That Airline Pilots Face

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Traveling by air can be exhausting, especially if you're flying across several time zones To combat fatigue, it's wise to dress comfortably and get up and move during your flight. Airline pilots, unfortunately, can't take the same liberty as passengers. You rarely see a pilot during a flight because they remain inside a tiny cockpit for what can be hours on end. Because of this, pilots are more apt to experience burnout as well as one of the following six health issues.

Poor Diet Habits

Airline food is fine for one flight, but can you imagine eating it every day? Pilots and other flight crew don't always have access to nutritious food. In addition, fast food offerings at airports can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and diabetes. To avoid illness, pilots need to search for healthier options on the job such as salads, fruits and yogurt. They can also benefit from using a wellness program like the Thrive experience which can be taken anywhere.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

If you're a frequent flyer, you're familiar with deep vein thrombosis. This is when a blood clot forms, usually in the lower leg, where it causes pain and swelling. It can occur because of obesity, smoking and as a result of sitting for long periods of time like pilots do. To avoid deep leg thrombosis, it's important for pilots to stretch their legs at least once per hour. In many cases, the use of compression stockings is helpful.

Sleep Pattern Disruption

Jet lag is a common occurrence when you fly to another continent. For those working in aviation, it's not uncommon to see sleep deprivation followed by insomnia during time off. These conditions are a result of an interruption of the circadian rhythm and lead to extreme fatigue. Pilots can attempt to manage sleep problems by making sure their bedroom is dark and kept at a cooler temperature. They should also avoid caffeine before bedtime.

High Stress Levels

Being an airline pilot means dealing with a tremendous amount of stress. Pilots contend with irregular schedules, cancellations and diverted flights. On top of that, they're also responsible for everyone on board. Stress can creep in at any moment, while on the job or on down time. It's crucial for pilots to understand how to deal with in-flight stress and anticipate problems before they happen. Maintaining open lines of communication with crew greatly reduces tension.

Skin Cancer

If you've ever flown, you know it's always sunny above the clouds. Pilots are often hit squarely in the face with dangerous ultraviolet rays. Since they're flying at high elevations, that also means these rays are unfiltered, increasing their risk for skin cancer. When a pilot flies on routes that are close to the equator, their exposure is compounded. Sunscreen should be used every day and reapplied often. Pilots need to be vigilant of spots or moles and see a doctor immediately if something appears.

Sinus Problems

For those that have experienced a sinus infection, they know how painful it can be. One of the precursors to sinus maladies is dry air, something that's abundant on airplanes. Throw in frequent changes in pressure and you've got the perfect recipe for a sinus infection. Pilots that are susceptible to sinus problems should also avoid touching their face and use hand sanitizer to avoid germs. Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration and sinus rinses are also effective in avoiding illness.

Potential Health Risks Can Be Avoided

Airline pilots have one of the most admired and respected jobs in the world. However, there are potential health risks that come along with the territory. Problems such as poor diet, sleep disruptions and stress can make a pilot's life miserable if they're not properly dealt with. By seeking appropriate outlets such as a wellness program, improving sleep and maintaining good communication on the job, the exciting reputation of an airline pilot will fly far beyond expectations.

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