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What Happens To Your Body When A Plane Loses Cabin Pressure?

By Neha Ghosh
Airplane Cabin Pressure can affect Health: फ्लाइट के अंदर क्‍यों जरुरी है केबिन प्रेशर? | Boldsky

The Mumbai-Jaipur Jet Airways flight had to make an immediate landing because dozens of passengers travelling on this flight were injured due to cabin pressure.
Around 36 passengers suffered from nose and ear bleed injuries and headaches. This happened because the pilots failed to switch on the plane's cabin pressure.

During flights, cabin pressure is turned on to balance the loss of oxygen that naturally occurs when a plane reaches high altitude. When the cabin pressure isn't at normal levels, the lack of oxygen at high altitude causes nosebleeds, shortness of breath, swelling of the brain, headaches, and spontaneous lung collapse.

Why Do Planes Pressurise Their Cabins?

The aircraft cabins are pressurized using cool and filtered air bled from the engines, which keeps the air pressure inside the cabin at an altitude of 8,000 ft. If the cabin air is dry, it might cause passengers to become dehydrated and suffer from nosebleeds and shortness of breath.

What Happens To Your Body When A Plane Loses Cabin Pressure?

1. Oxygen deprivation

A recent study claimed that all aircraft cabins are pressurized to 75 per cent of the normal atmospheric pressure. If the pressure is low in the cabin, you start feeling dizzy, fatigued, and experience headaches, shortness of breath and nosebleeds due to the low levels of oxygen in the blood.

2. Loss of taste and hearing

According to a research, when the plane is at a high altitude, a third of your taste buds become numb and the dryness and cabin air pressure affect the sinuses, ears, and sense of taste.
A study done by the British Airways and the Leatherhead Food Research claims that cold temperatures, high-stress levels and grey cabin lighting were also found to dull the passengers' tastes for food.

3. Dehydration

When you are in the plane, the body is deprived of up to 1.5 L of water due to the dry air pressure in the cabin which has the potential to cause the mucous membranes of your throat, mouth and nose to dry out. The mild hypoxic environment of the flight also increases the breathing rate, the combination of which results in water loss.

4. Swelling and bloating

When the air pressure changes in high altitudes, the build-up of gas in the body leads to constipation, bloating and other gastrointestinal issues. Also, as the body doesn't move and you are sitting in a cramped space for a long time, this causes the blood to build-up in the legs which increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis.

What You Can Do To Prevent Any Harm?

1. While travelling on a plane, you have often experienced the hostesses instructing the passengers on putting on an oxygen mask in case of emergencies. Stick to the instruction and put on an oxygen mask if you are experiencing shortness of breath.

2. The whole body dries out completely, including your nose, mouth and throat. To keep your nasal passages moist and to prevent nosebleeds, carry a nasal saline spray with you while travelling in a plane.

3. Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water at regular intervals.

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