How to Avoid Getting Sick When Flying (Slideshow)
November 26, 2013
These 7 easy tips can help you stay healthy during and after your next flight
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water throughout the flight will help fight against several of the most common in-flight nuisances, which are caused by the dry air at high altitude. Staying hydrated is essential in order to keep your immune system in your nose and throat in balance, helping you avoid contracting the common cold. Staying hydrated can also help protect against headaches, stomach problems, and fatigue, and, as Dr. Navarro highlights, help you avoid blood clots and swelling of the feet.
Wash Your Hands
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend frequent hand-washing as one of the easiest ways to prevent catching a bug. Some scientists report that viruses causing colds and flu can survive on your skin or objects such as armrests, remote controls, or the table-tray for several hours. By simply washing your hands with hot water and soap, you can protect yourself against these bad germs. If you don’t feel like running to the bathroom all the time, bring a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer to rub on your hands, especially before meals.
Avoid Drinking Coffee and Caffeinated Soda
Caffeine tends to dehydrate the body, and drinking coffee or soda with caffeine is therefore not recommended while flying (or before). Without the extra caffeine you might also find it easier to take a nap during your flight, which can be helpful in avoiding jet lag or headaches.
Keep Your Mouth Clean
Washing their hands is often something people remember to do in order to keep up their hygiene, but another more overlooked thing is their dental hygiene. Using a germ-killing mouthwash in-flight is a good way to add an extra layer of protection against germs, and will simultaneously help keep your throat and mouth moist. Just remember to check the latest rules and regulations on size limits for liquid carry-ons before packing your mouthwash.
Drink Herbal Tea
While coffee should be avoided because of the caffeine, drinking hot drinks can in general be a good way to keep your protective mucous membrane working, according to Independent Traveler. The report says they can help in three ways: "First, to assist in keeping you generally hydrated; second, by triggering the system into gear; and third, by directly providing moisture in the form of steam."
Sitting still for many hours might make your muscles cramp up and get sore, and put you at greater risk for getting blood clots. Dr. Navarro reminds us that those more than 40 years old and those who are overweight are at greater risk, but that everyone should remember to keep their body moving. "At times where you can’t get up, move your legs, and exercise your calf muscles by flexing your ankles. This increases blood flow by pushing blood back up the legs and improving circulation. When possible, take brief walks around the cabin, to get blood flowing even more," Navarro says.
When your nose starts feeling stuffy, or a throat sore or headache is creeping up on you, it is good to have a pack of Emergen-C or vitamin pills to take for a quick immune boost. Eating oranges or other vitamin-c rich fruit is also a good idea to keep your body’s immune system working.