travelTraveling by airplane offers convenience and saves you a lot of time. However, air travel also exposes you to a variety of health issues that most people aren’t aware of.  Airports and airplanes are breeding grounds for germs. People cooped up on airplanes for hours are exposed to colds, influenza, and various other illnesses and the key to remaining healthy in this kind of environment is to follow a system designed to keep yourself away from germs and infections. This includes washing your hands often, drinking lots of water, and making sure you get adequate rest before boarding the plane. Having a small first-aid kit is also helpful.

Antibacterial Gels and Wipes
Hundreds of people use the same airplane every day. Not all of them are very fastidious. They may sneeze or cough into the air or on their hands. They may not wash their hand after using the restroom, blowing their noses, or cleaning their ears and when they touch the seats, doors, armrests, or anything else on the plane, they can contaminate it with dangerous germs.

  • Using antibacterial wipes to clean armrests, trays, and doors, before touching them, or antibacterial gels or wipes to clean your hands after touching these surfaces can kill dangerous germs and guard you from infections.

Drink Lots of Water
Dehydration can leave people fatigued and weaken their immune system. This leaves them vulnerable to the flu bug and the many other germs that are circulating in the air or are present on surfaces throughout the airplane.

Drinking about 8 ounces of water or some other type of liquid refreshment that is high in electrolytes for every hour you spend in the airplane can help to keep you properly hydrated, improve your energy level, and help your immune system to fight off the germs you may encounter on the plane.

Eat Wisely Before and On Flight
What you eat at the airport or on the plane can help you or hurt you.

  • Instead of eating the pizza or other food that has been sitting out in the open collecting germs for who knows how long, opt for a wrapped deli sandwich or a packaged granola bar.
  • The fat and preservatives in much of the fast food items available at airports can wreak havoc on your stomach, drain your energy, and if it doesn’t sicken you, it can certainly weaken you and make you more susceptible to the germs you encounter on the plane.

Keep Moving
One of the conditions travelers must take steps to prevent is Deep Vein Thrombosis; i.e. blood clots that form in deep veins.

  • On long flights people who are at high risk for this condition can do a number of different things to facilitate blood flow.
  • The number one thing people concerned about DVT can do is move around frequently. This can include getting up and walking around in the plane at least once an hour.
  • Flex, stretch, and generally move your legs, especially your calves, to stimulate blood flow.
  • Drinking water and sports drinks and wearing loose fitting clothing can help.

General Tips
There are some other things travelers can do to protect their health, enjoy their flights, and get to their destination energized and in good health. These are listed below;

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks before flying.
  • Stay away from people who are sneezing, coughing, or have watery eyes.
  • Try not to touch tables, seats, bathroom doors, or the floor with your bare hands.
  • Take antibacterial nasal spray, vitamins, and painkillers if you begin feeling ill.
  • Blankets, seatback pockets, tray tables, pillows, and water in airplane bathroom taps are germ laden. Avoid them.

If you are a frequent traveler, keep these tips in mind and you’ll save yourself from the discomfort and health issues many people face during and after air travel.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author: Michele Holincheck, FNP

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