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Seven reasons you get sick while flying

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Do you have upcoming plans for an exquisite vacation getaway? Well, as fun and exciting as traveling to new destinations may be, you must always keep your health in mind amidst your travel adventures.

With so many passengers in relatively close proximity to one another in the airport or on the aircraft, the risk of infectious disease transmission is certainly always a possibility.

Getting sick while traveling will undoubtedly put a huge damper on your vacation plans.

So, before boarding that next flight, remember some of the factors that may potentially contribute to illness while traveling and some key prevention tips and strategies.

Here are the common reasons you continue to fall ill while traveling:

Choosing the wrong seat.

Aisle or window seat? Which seat option do you think will increase your likelihood of getting sick?

Well, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year revealed that a window seat may indeed be the better seat choice to reduce your risk of coming in contact with germs and infectious pathogens.

It turns out that if you are seated in an aisle seat, you are more prone to come in closer proximity to other passengers walking through the aisles that may already be sick with various infections.

So, if aisle seats are typically your preference, you may want to give that option a second thought.

Staying seated the entire flight.

Be sure to avoid prolonged sitting during your next long flight. It’s imperative that you stand up and stretch your body throughout the course of the trip.

The longer you are seated, blood continues to pool in the lower extremities and may actually increase the likelihood of developing deep vein thromboses (DVTs), or blood clot formation in the veins of the legs.

Focus on your leg stretches and exercises while in flight.

You are drinking too much alcohol.

We all want to unwind during a long international flight, but do not over do it with the alcoholic beverages.

These drinks may have somewhat of a diuretic effect and can contribute to dehydration.

Additionally, at very high altitudes the air already tends to be quite dry, so you really must make the effort to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water during your flight.

Severe dehydration can be linked to certain symptoms such as dizziness, generalized malaise, and even heart palpitations.

Touching too many unclean surfaces.

The dirtiest locations inside an aircraft may actually come as a surprise to you.

A study on airline hygiene conducted by Travelmath.com, found that the surface of tray tables were actually even dirtier than the toilets on the airplane!

Yes, the same table that your food is served on may be a nidus for bacteria and viruses to thrive.

So, bring some disinfectant wipes to clean your tray table and try to limit contact with that surface.

In regards to the cleanliness of some airplane bathrooms, well, let’s just say that not everyone upholds the same hygiene standards during a flight. E. coli is a pathogen that can easily be spread in airplane bathrooms and may actually thrive on an airplane toilet handle for up to 48 hours, according to a study from Auburn University.

While in the bathroom of the plane, refrain from touching the toilet handles, faucets, and bathroom door handles with your bare hands.

Instead use a napkin, tissue, or any other barrier so you are not coming into direct contact with these surfaces.

You forgot to take your home medications

If you have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes or hypertension for which you are on medication, you should continue to take those medications as prescribed by your doctor even while traveling.

Often times when someone is in vacation mode, they sometimes ignore and skip doses of important meds thinking it is not a big deal to stop their medication temporarily.

Medication compliance is key in helping manage many chronic medical problems.

You didn’t come prepared for motion sickness

The mechanism mediating motion sickness is not fully understood.

But, it in part occurs when the brain gets contradictory signals from both the visual and vestibular system resulting in a constellation of uncomfortable symptoms. 

While flying, one may start experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting or even feelings of generalized malaise, especially if there is turbulence in flight.

If you have a known history of motion sickness, come prepared for your flight.

Pack some ginger candy, fresh ginger, or ginger tea that may help alleviate some of your symptoms.

The phenols contained in ginger may actually help curb symptoms of nausea and motion sickness.

Don’t allow illness to ruin your next trip! Stick to some basic hygiene tips and good habits to make your next flight more enjoyable.


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