Beating Airborne Bugs: How to Stay Healthy When You Get on a Plane
Flying is big business in the UK. According to official figures, at Heathrow Airport alone, 73.4 million people arrived and departed in 2014, and 93% of flights are international.
Quite simply, flying is the easiest way to reach your holiday destination; and there’s something rather wonderful about leaving a grey, rainy day in Britain behind, and arriving to warm sunshine only a few hours later.
The Issues with Airline Travel?
However, despite its convenience, air travel isn’t without its problems. Aeroplanes are notorious breeding grounds for germs, which can leave many passengers feeling poorly as soon as their holiday begins. Add this to risk of dehydration and jet-lag, and it’s easy to see why planes sometimes get a bad reputation!
Indeed, according to microbiologist James Barbaree and his team from Auburn University, dangerous bacteria and viruses can last far longer on aeroplanes than you might think. Their tests revealed that E Coli survived up to four days in the plane, and MRSA, about a week.
- Know the ‘problem’ areas on a plane. Research shows that germs like to linger on arm-rests, fold-down tables and door-knobs. Take some antibacterial wipes with you, and give the surfaces a quick clean when you board your flight; and when opening the door to the toilet, use your sleeve instead of your fingers.
- Boost immunity before you go. If your immunity is compromised when you get on the flight, you’re far more vulnerable to the germs in the plane. In the weeks leading up to the flight, work on raising your immunity. Eat well, ensure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals, and avoid coming into contact with anyone else who might be ill!
- Don’t touch your eyes. Rubbing your eyes allows pathogens to travel much faster into your system; as your tear ducts act as a transmission route. If you suffer from itchy, dry eyes during flights, make sure to bring eye drops with you.
- Don’t get dehydrated. On your flight, it’s important to stay well hydrated. Avoid drinking alcohol both before and during your flight, and drink plenty of water. You may also want to avoid coffee or tea. Staying hydrated will help you to avoid feeling tired or suffering a headache.
- Don’t close your air-vent. Keeping your air-vent blowing is a good way of keeping germs out of your seating area.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is also a risk when you’re flying; particularly when you’re over the age of 50. Before you board your flight, make sure to walk around as much as possible to boost your circulation. Once on the plane, get out of your seat as much as you’re able; and when sitting down, make sure to regularly rotate your ankles and stretch out your calf muscles. If you think you may be at increased risk of developing DVT, it’s advisable to invest in some compression socks to wear during your flight.