To Consume or Not Consume…That is the Question

Of the many things you can do to kill time while flying, drinking is inarguably the least appealing in regards to your health and your overall personal behavior. Of course, it’s understandable that the idea of drinking to reduce flight jitters could be enticing. The stewardess offering you alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, makes the idea irresistible. What you are probably not conversant with, however, is the theory that alcohol effects at a high altitude are entirely different from its impact on the earth’s surface. Going by the theory, drinking an equal amount of alcohol onboard a plane as what you drink at home could mean that you get intoxicated faster. Subsequently, you become more dehydrated, experience the worst motion sickness of your lifetime and, worst of all, become a bother to other passengers. Not many people will stand your drunk behavior you know? It even gets a lot worse if the people around you are all strangers.

But how accurate is this theory?

From the barometric pressure point of view, air pressure decreases with height and so does the humans’ ability to breathe. This causes a condition known as hypoxia: a drunk-like feeling even when you have tasted nothing close to alcohol. The moment you drink, this situation worsens, and so you end up looking drunk than you are. However, research has shown that blood alcohol content (BAC) in the human body is not affected by changes in altitude.

Contrary arguments to this theory have come forth, too. According to a research conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration, alcohol effects are constant with changes in altitude. The study, however, acknowledges that heavy on-flight drinking could be a possible cause of cognitive dissonance.

After Drinking, What Next?

If you can’t resist drinking in the plane, then make sure that every drink is accompanied by an equal amount of water. At the very least, this reduces dehydration and minimizes the hypoxia effect. Salt-free foods are also useful in combating dehydration.


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