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July 05, 2007

Jet Lag or Altitude Sickness?

This makes sense to me:

Many of the effects of long-distance flight may be the result of altitude sickness rather than fatigue or jet lag, experiments carried out by Boeing doctors suggest.

Headache, nausea and dizziness, fatigue and a general feeling of malaise are symptoms of acute mountain sickness, which 75 per cent of people will experience at altitudes of more than 10,000ft (3,000m).

Aircraft fly much higher, but are generally pressurised to a minimum of 565mm of mercury, equivalent to an altitude of about 8,000ft, when flying at their maximum height. Pressure at ground level is 760mm.

I've had altitude sickness (fortunately not severe) and I have to agree that planes affect me exactly the same way. I simply zonk out, fall asleep almost immediately and come too again as we land. Stewardesses love me as they don't have to do anything.

July 5, 2007 in Travel | Permalink

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Comments

Lucky you Tim, my response to altitude sickness is a headache :-)

Posted by: Rupert Fiennes | Jul 5, 2007 10:09:30 AM

I don't find the experiment very convincing. All it shows is that the symptomns of altitude sickness and jet lag are similar. It does not show that jet lag is a form of altitude sickness.

Posted by: james C | Jul 5, 2007 11:07:30 AM

Do they still try to wake you up for your meals, Tim?

I remember a flight to Australia a few years back that seemed to consist of a new breakfast as we passed through each time zone. Absolutely baffling. The moment I'd drop off to sleep (during the hardcore 26 hour flight) I'd be hit in the head with a bagel and one of those pallid sausages that you can never quite cut with the plastic knife and fork.

Still, my version of altitude sickness usually comes when I'm stuck in the window seat, pinned in by a young couple who insist on eating each other's faces for the entire flight.

Posted by: sortapundit | Jul 5, 2007 11:36:32 AM

"Still, my version of altitude sickness usually comes when I'm stuck in the window seat, pinned in by a young couple who insist on eating each other's faces for the entire flight."

Don't worry... can't be long before kissing in an enclosed (or partially enclosed) public space is outlawed... along with drinking alcohol and eating meat. It's great being British, innit?

Posted by: MarkS | Jul 5, 2007 12:17:56 PM

I simply zonk out, fall asleep almost immediately and come too again as we land. Stewardesses love me as they don't have to do anything.

Heh! I could change a few words in there to reference a particular habit of single Brits who visit Dubai.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jul 5, 2007 9:29:23 PM

The interesting thing about this finding is that it was made by "Boeing scientists". Yes its true the atmosphere inside the plane is similar to altitude sickness. The term they share in common is a Hypobaric atmosphere. Nothing new there, the only way to see this "finding" is as an attempt to deflect any negative associations with Boeing, otherwise known as putting a positive spin on things. Altitude sickness is part of Jet Lag, but not the whole picture.

Posted by: Christopher Babayode | Jul 6, 2007 4:19:10 PM