For many folks, the holidays mean air travel. Are you on your way to visit family? Or to a tropical resort to opt out of the holiday madness? Wherever you are going, it’s a fact that air travel poses its own set of health risks. This means healthy air travel can be the difference between enjoying your holiday or spending the season feeling miserable. So take a few precautions before your next flight.
Keep Germs at Bay
Flying, like a packed holiday concert or a crowded Black Friday sale, creates a situation where it is easy for germs to pass from one person to another. Take a few precautions to minimize the risk of picking something up from one of your fellow travelers.
- Use good hygiene and wash your hands after using the restroom and before eating. Keep hand wipes in your carry-on to use when you can’t get to the lavatory.
- While you are at it, wipe down your tray table. Travelmath sent a microbiologist to test surfaces on airplanes. The results showed those trays can be quite contaminated. And if you accidentally drop your roll on the tray table instead of your serving tray – don’t eat it!
- As always, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Keep hydrated. The air is dry in an airplane cabin and can quickly dry out your nasal passages, giving easier access to disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol while on board to stay hydrated.
- Get your flu shot. Nothing ruins a holiday quite like a case of the flu. A flu shot is quick and easy, and offers a nice bit of protection for you and those around you.
Keep Your Blood Flowing
Deep vein thromboses (DVTs) are one of the risks of sitting in a cramped space for a prolonged period of time. These blood clots form in the leg, and they are dangerous because they can dislodge and travel to the lung where they can impair your ability to breathe.
During your flight, try to walk up and down the aisle to stretch your legs every so often. In your seat you can point and flex your toes, rotate your ankles, and flex your calves. If DVTs are of special concern to you, talk to your doctor about compression garments for your flight. They can help with circulation, swelling and dehydration.
Determine if You Should be Flying at All
Let’s face it. Airplanes are uncomfortable for even the fittest traveler. Tightly packed and uncomfortably angled seats limit the number of positions you can attempt to find comfort. Even though airplanes are pressurized, the oxygen level is still similar to that of about a 7,000 foot elevation. It’s like you’ll be hanging out on the top of a mountain for a few hours.
This means health problems like heart or lung disease, physical mobility issues, and even pregnancy can make flying unsafe. If you are pregnant or have any chronic conditions, it is best to visit with your doctor to learn how to prepare for healthy air travel – or even if you should fly at all.
Image credit Monkey Business via Adobe Stock