Sickness when flying is no fun. I’m not talking about barfing into paper bags but the various diseases, germs and other ‘orrible conditions that airplane passengers just love to share. Did you know that according to industry reports, you are 113 times more likely to catch a cold as an airplane traveler than during your normal daily life? It’s important therefore to avoid sickness when flying. If you catch cold on the way to your destination it could ruin your vacation, get sick when flying home and it can add to your post vacation blues. Want to know how to reduce the risk of catching something undesirable and deal with other possible problems such as ear popping and deep vein thrombosis? Here are 7 Ways to Avoid Sickness When Flying:
The higher the altitude, the thinner the air and there’s less humidity. This means your body is less able to fight the germ that cause disease. The mucus membranes of your throat and nose get dry and the efficacy of the nasal system that sends bacteria and viruses to the stomach to be flushed out is reduced. Keep your nose and throat moist and avoid sickness when flying by drinking plenty of water before and during your flight. You can also use a saline nasal solution or nasal mist that will boost your body’s germ-flushing action.
2. Eww – Airline Food
I am never prone to scaremongering but I think you will all see what I mean about passing on airline food is one sure way to avoid sickness when flying – and I don’t mean you’ll need to grab the sick bag! Food-borne illness from airplane is more common than we might imagine. In 2010 the FDA reported they had found serious problems at the Denver base of LSG Sky Chefs – the company that provides more than 300 airlines with 405 million in-flight meals every year. Inspectors found ants, flies, cockroaches and assorted debris as well as listeria bacteria (very nasty) on the kitchen floor. If you are going to eat airline food – make sure heated food is piping hot and where appropriate, everything is served in plastic.
3. Avoid Germ Ridden Passengers
This isn’t going to be practical every time but if you don’t want to be sick when flying you need to avoid anyone who is coughing and sneezing. Research shows that you generally have to be within two seat lengths or rows of the disease spreader to catch their germs. You really only have two options if you are this close to a sneezing, coughing spluttering passenger. One is to move – like I said, not always practicable. The other option is to wear a face mask. If neither are available to you your only way to reduce risk is to put as much distance between you and them as possible. Lean back if they are in front and vice versa.
4. Disinfect and Decontaminate
Germ transference is another factor in causing sickness when flying. The atmosphere in airplanes means rhinoviruses can live up to 3 hours on surfaces so, if your fear of catching a disease is greater than your embarrassment at looking like you have OCD, carry disinfectant wet wipes to clean surfaces around your seat before touching them – tray tables, tv screen, armrests and even your seatbelt can be easily decontaminated in this way.
5. Ear Ear
Some of us suffer from ear popping as the pressure in the airplane cabin changes. Occasionally it reaches the point where the imbalance isn’t corrected and the equilibrium in your Eustachian tube (the passageway between ear and nose) remains out of kilter resulting in reduced hearing and possibly earache. In some it also causes dizziness. To rectify this kind of in flight sickness, you need to clear the «blockage». You can either try swallowing hard, yawning or taking a deep breath and blowing while pinching your nostrils and closing your mouth. You should feel a pop when all is right again.
Deep Vein Thrombosis is a risk for travelers who have to sit motionless for a long time. With more transatlantic flights, DVTs are more common. DVT is a blood clot deep in the muscles –usually in the thigh or calf. The worst case scenario is the blood clot can travel to your lungs and result in death (lovely!) from a pulmonary embolism. You can reduce the risk of DVT by wearing specially designed compression socks for the duration of your flight. Other options include regularly walking about the airplane if possible and if not doing simple in-seat exercises. Curl and press the toes down and clench the buttocks – both of these will help keep the blood pumping in your legs.
7. Clean Air
Do you avoid putting on the air vent because the blast of cold is too much for you? Think again. You are better off wearing a jumper than keeping the air vent closed if you want to avoid sickness when flying. The restricted ventilation of airplanes creates a nice safe haven for breeding germs. The air from the vents has been recirculated and filtered so is cleaner. The breeze the air vent creates can also blow away any germs your fellow passengers might be sending your way. Flu transmission in uncirculated air is a recognized problem so much so that flight regulations dictate that passengers must be removed from plane within 30 minutes of the ventilation system being powered down.
Apologies if I’ve made you paranoid, but as you can see, sickness when flying is a real threat and, if you’re on vacation and suddenly catch a cold now you know why. The steps to avoid sickness when flying are all simple and are a minimal cost and effort, yet they might be the difference between a great vacation and one where the overriding memory is a runny nose and boxes of tissues.
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