Traveling by plane is often the quickest and most convenient way to reach far-flung destinations, but it also comes with a significant downside – the risk of falling ill. Whether you’re embarking on a short business trip or a long-awaited vacation, maintaining good health is crucial. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to stay healthy while flying.
The first step towards preventing illness during air travel is ensuring proper hydration. The air inside an airplane cabin tends to be significantly drier than what most people are used to, leading to potential dehydration. Symptoms can range from minor annoyances like dry skin and fatigue to more severe problems such as headaches and lightheadedness.
To combat this, make sure to drink plenty of water before your flight, during the flight, and after landing. Aim to drink plenty of water, at least one glass of water for every hour you’re in the air. However, try to avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these substances can exacerbate dehydration.
Maintain Hand Hygiene
Airplanes are shared spaces, and thus, can be a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. One of the easiest ways to prevent sickness is by maintaining good hand hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, especially before meals and after using the restroom.
Use hand sanitizer
When a sink isn’t available, use hand sanitizer. Opt for one that contains at least 60% alcohol for maximum effectiveness. Remember, keeping your hands clean is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to avoid getting sick.
Avoid Touching Your Face
We tend to touch our face more than we realize. From rubbing your eyes or scratching your nose, these actions can increase the risk of getting sick by transferring bacteria or viruses into our bodies. On an airplane, try to minimize facial contact as much as possible and keep hands away from your face.
Fortify Your Immune System
Your immune system is your body’s primary defense against illness, so it’s crucial to keep it in top shape, particularly when you’re about to travel. In the days leading up to your trip, ensure you’re eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These foods are packed with essential vitamins and minerals that can boost your immune system.
Additionally, make sure to get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to disease. Regular exercise is also beneficial as it can strengthen your immune systems’ response.
Long flights often involve extended periods of sitting, which raises blood pressure and can lead to conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT). To mitigate this risk, make an effort to move around every hour or so. Stand up, walk down the aisle, stretch your legs, or do some simple in-seat exercises to keep your blood circulating.
Use a Nasal Spray
The dry air in an aircraft can dry out your nasal passages, leaving them more vulnerable to infection. Consider using a saline nasal spray before, during, and after your next flight. This will help keep your nasal passages moist and can create a barrier against viruses and bacteria.
Choose Your Seat Wisely
If possible, opt for a window seat. Research suggests that those sitting in aisle seats have a higher likelihood of becoming sick on a plane by coming into contact with other passengers, and therefore, more exposure to germs. Window seat passengers tend to have fewer interactions, reducing the chances of getting sick or picking up a virus from fellow passengers.
Bring Your Own Blanket and Pillow
While airlines often provide blankets and pillows, they may not always be cleaned thoroughly between flights. To avoid potential exposure to germs, consider bringing your own travel blanket and pillow.
Wear a Mask
Wearing a full face mask, particularly on long flights, can help protect you from airborne pathogens. Masks have become a common sight in airports and on airplanes, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’re a simple, effective measure to help prevent the spread of disease.
Keep your belongings in the overhead bin
Germs can linger on surfaces, including those found inside airplanes. To limit your exposure to airborne germs, try to keep your belongings in the overhead bin as much as possible instead of storing them under the seat in front of you.
Flying can be an exciting and convenient way to travel, but it also comes with some unique health risks. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can help protect yourself against potential illness during air travel and enjoy a comfortable, healthy journey. Good luck!