Looking at the millions of galaxies in the sky at night, you’d wonder how they came to be in the first place. But that aside, have you wondered what astronauts experience when they get into space? As science fiction writers […]
Looking at the millions of galaxies in the sky at night, you’d wonder how they came to be in the first place. But that aside, have you wondered what astronauts experience when they get into space? As science fiction writers say, it is a destination full of mysteries.
From zero gravity, lack of oxygen, ice-cold temperatures, and poisonous radiation, it’s rarely glamorous. So before you board a space shuttle, beware of the following possible side effects.
1. Puffy Face
At zero-G (zero gravity), your body will experience a change in the direction of flow of all body fluids, including blood. So, instead of blood flowing to the lower limbs, it could flow freely to the upper torso and your head is a welcome receptor.
In the first few days, all the blood vessels in your head and neck will swell, giving you a puffy, swollen face. This phenomenon is popularly referred to as ‘Moon Face’ by the astronauts. It also explains why astronauts appear round and puffy when they return from space.
Puffy Face Syndrome
Source: Living in Space
In space, you are likely to feel exhaustion and fatigue because of sleep deprivation. The international space station is a floating mass that orbits the earth after one and a half hours. This means reduced sleeping time because the sun rises and sets around 15-16 times every 24 hours.
Because of rapid transitions from day to night and night to day, your normal sleep pattern will be interrupted, causing exhaustion, increased irritability, and reduced concentration.
3. Peeing Without Warning
When your bladder is full, you feel the urge to pee because of your instinct. In addition, the pressure exerted by gravitational force at the bottom of your bladder prompts you to pee. However, in space, you may wet your clothes suddenly without a warning. At zero-g, you’ll only feel the urge to pee when your bladder is full and almost running over.
4. Watery Eyes
In space, you are likely to have flooded eyes than when on earth because your tears won’t roll down your cheeks. Instead, your tears can build up into a massive ball, capable of flooding your eyes due to lack of gravity.
In 2011, astronaut Andrew Feustel experienced this phenomenon during a seven-hour spacewalk. An anti-fog solution accidentally landed on his eyes, triggering a tear flow. Unfortunately, he couldn’t wipe his eyes because he was wearing his spacesuit. Instead, he used a device attached to protect his nose to wipe his flooded eyes.
Video demonstrating what happens to tears in space:
5. Height Increase
If you feel disgusted by your stout body height, consider launching into space. That astronauts return from space 3% taller is a proven phenomenon. At zero-G, the spine has more room for free growth and expansion, so it would stretch by a few inches. However, it won’t be long before you resume your usual height once you get back on earth.
Space Makes You Taller
Source: Curious Minds
6. Loss of Bone Density
Naturally, you need calcium to develop strong, healthy bones. But when in space, your body loses the natural ability to absorb calcium into the bones because of zero G. So, you’ll lose bone density at a higher rate than when on earth.
7. Muscle Atrophy
You are likely to experience a condition called muscle atrophy while in space. This is a condition that causes muscle degradation and loss of muscle mass when you don’t use them frequently. In space, a little flexing of the muscles can get you to move a long distance because of weightlessness.
As a result, your body may quickly begin to get rid of the extra mass of muscles. To prevent this, you may need at least two hours of exercise each day to keep your muscles in check.
An astronaut in training at zero-G:
8. Shrinking of the Heart
Your cardiovascular system largely depends on the force of gravity to enhance the pumping and flow of blood. Without gravity, your heart will shrink, its shape will change, while all the ventricles will reduce in mass.
In addition, your heart rate will decrease, as will the amount of blood pumped into other parts of the body. As a result, the heart’s muscles will shrink too.
9. Blurred Vision
A common complication experienced by astronauts in space is an unexplained form of visual impairment. This space-induced blindness is attributed to changes in pressure levels in the brain. Some astronauts report having distorted eyesight after being in orbit for some time.
An example is astronaut John Philips who developed a blurred vision after being at the international space center for some time. His visual acuity dropped from 20/20 to 20/100 in six months.
10. Nasal Blockage
Did you know that gravity helps clear your nostrils by draining mucus down your throat? Well, that is what happens on earth where there’s gravity. When you get to space, the reverse is true. At zero gravity, you’ll have congested nostrils, loss of taste, and sense of smell. As a quick measure, astronauts eat some spicy foods and hot sauces to clear their throat and nostrils.
Is It Worth?
It is every astronaut’s dream to fly into space at one point in life. However, space travel may cause undesirable side effects that are unknown to many space enthusiasts. So, before any space mission, such effects would be worth considering. The good news though is that there is a medical team dedicated to offering guidance and advice to astronauts before and after a space mission.