I hate travelling by plane. Lewis Black describes a lot of the aspects I don't like - generally speaking it makes me feel really bad and sick. My Eustachi tubes are very tight which does not help matters when it comes to pressure balance
Obviously, nature did not plan for us to fly or to dwell at altitudes this high. I'm curious: Are there any long-term studies our there, any connections between flying and disease? Frequent flying? Not to mention the jetlag issues and the resulting sleep/insomnia problems.
I don't have any knowledge of studies, but I'm going to hazard a guess that there aren't many. Cabins are pressurized quite smoothly these days, so the only way our bodies "notice" being in flight is during these pressure adjustments. From a bit of internet perusing, it seems as though pressures inside planes rise to several thousand feet above sea level (while the plane is at cruising altitude, usually around 30000 feet).
That said, there are a lot of studies conducted about high altitude living and high altitude sickness, if you want to dig into those. Here's one, for an example:
Many humans live at at least 7000 feet, such as those on the Himalayan plateau, and I believe that they are quite well adjusted (though the above article doesn't really address this). There may be some long term evolutionary adjustments out there, but there are certainly short term adjustments that work quite well, too. Our blood vessels expand and contract when we severely change pressures, for one, and our hearts have to pump a tiny bit harder to get the more limited oxygen where it needs to go in our bodies. BUT the limited oxygen is a feature of our atmosphere, whereas oxygen levels are held steady on airplanes, so this shouldn't be a part of any problem with flying. People who suffer migraines or other blood-vessel related maladies may suffer from super-frequent flying. But, again, I'd guess that changing to an altitude pressure of 7000 feet now and again, especially with adequate oxygen--isn't normally harmful at all.
I would bet that the greatest harm from flying comes from, as you mentioned, the whole jetlag/insomnia deal, which has been studied a lot. Wikipedia has a good introduction to jetlag: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jetlag
You're crazy for taking the bus by Johnathan Richman
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And it's salt lake city everybody off Salt lake city everybody off With elko welles and reno down the line So you take the plane, i'll take the bus this time But jonathan...
You're crazy for taking the bus Well, i'm crazy, so what's the fuss Two whole days on that stinking bus Yeah and i sleep fine So you take the plane but i'll take the bus this time.
Daily nutrient intake 5 Answers