October 7, 2015
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Jet Lag

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What is jet lag?

Jet lag, also called desynchronosis and flight fatigue, is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms as a result of air travel across time zones. It is considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which is a disruption of the internal body clock.

What are other symptoms and signs of jet lag?

Besides fatigue and insomnia, a jet lag sufferer may experience a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, nausea, difficulty concentrating, sweating, coordination problems, dizziness, and even memory loss. Some individuals report additional symptoms, such as heartbeat irregularities and increased susceptibility to illness.

Children and babies can also suffer the same jet lag symptoms as adults.

Generally, people to not need a medical evaluation for a diagnosis of jet lag. If you have traveled across several time zones and feel the symptoms associated with jet lag, you likely have it. If your symptoms of jet lag are severe, do not go away after a few days, or you have any other concerns, see a doctor.

What is a time zone?

A time zone is a geographical region which has the same time everywhere within it. The world has 24 time zones, one for each hour in the day. Each zone runs from north to south in strips that are approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) wide. (The actual width of each zone varies to accommodate political and geographical boundaries.) As the earth rotates, dawn occurs at a set hour in one time zone, then an hour later in the time zone immediately to the west and so on through the 24-hour cycle. Thus, in the U.S., when it is 6 a.m. in the eastern time zone, it is 5 a.m. in the central zone, 4 a.m. in the mountain zone, and 3 a.m. in the Pacific zone.

What causes jet lag?

The cause of jet lag is the inability of the body of a traveler to immediately adjust to the time in a different zone. Thus, when a New Yorker arrives in Paris at midnight Paris time, his or her body continues to operate on New York time. As the body struggles to cope with the new schedule, temporary insomnia, fatigue, irritability, and an impaired ability to concentrate may set in. The changed bathroom schedule may cause constipation or diarrhea, and the brain may become confused and disoriented as it attempts to juggle schedules.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015

Source: MedicineNet.com

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