We’ve previously talked about ways in which you can deal with a flight if you are already sick. In this post, we will talk about how to avoid getting sick from a flight.
Before we get started, I just want to say that we will not be talking about motion sickness or anything like that in this piece. For tips on dealing with motion sickness, please see our previous post on the topic here.
This post will focus on avoiding bacterial or viral infections from spending time in an aluminum canister with a couple hundred other people, some of whom may very well be sick. Many inexpensive airlines these days pack economy class in so tight, it can often lead to feelings of nausea.
Prep yourself before you fly so that you are in tip-top shape when you step on the plane. This means getting plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your flight, eating well and staying hydrated.
It also wouldn’t hurt to take a daily multivitamin in the days before your flight. While vitamins are no substitute for eating a balanced diet, there is evidence that they can help plug up nutrient deficiencies, and it’s not like you can overdose on vitamin C. If you can make it happen, go wild with those leafy green vegetables – the holy grail of health!
Yes, you need to drink lots of water to stay hydrated on a plane. But you should also carry a moisturizing nose spray to prevent your nasal passage from getting too dry. A dry nasal passage prevents the flow of mucous, and mucous is what your sinuses use to send off any potentially threatening bacteria. Simply go to a pharmacy and tell them that you need a basic over the counter nasal spray to keep your nasal passage lubricated on an upcoming flight.
Don’t wear yourself out on the flight
Try to get some sleep, stay hydrated and steer clear of alcohol and caffeine. If you decide to fill the flight with alcoholic beverages that dehydrate you and make your body work to rid itself of a toxin, you will arrive at your destination run down and more primed to get sick than you were before. In fact, many of you have probably had exactly this experience!
Sitting next to someone sick? Ask to move seats
Unfortunately, sitting next to someone who is coughing and sneezing will maximize your chances of catching something. If the flight is booked solid, you might not be able to move to a new seat, but if there are open seats, it’s worth asking. The worst that can happen is the flight attendant will tell you it’s not possible. However, in most cases, flight attendants can be very accommodating with basic requests like this.
Act like a mild germaphobe
There are a few places on the plane that collect a high concentration of germs. One is the bathroom. Of course, you should wash your hands after using it, but it’s worthwhile to go the extra mile and use a paper towel if you need to touch anything in the bathroom. If you find it difficult to wash your hands in a sink that seems sized for a 2 year old, bring some hand sanitizing wipes along with you or a small bottle of hand sanitizer (security won’t let you bring more than 3 ounces).
Another germ center can be found in the seat-back reading material. These magazines will spend weeks – sometimes longer – collecting germs before they are disposed of. If you take advantage of the reading material, just be sure to wash your hands afterwards. Finally, the tray table. The tray table is one more germ mecca. Some studies have even found MRSA lurking on this surface. There is an easy fix, though. If you bring a long a few sanitizing wipes, you can wipe down the tray table before you use it.
If you have any tips to share on keeping yourself healthy during and after a flight, please share them in the comments below.