Air travel these days can be crowded, uncomfortable and inconvenient. By the time you reach your destination, you may be at the brink of exhaustion.
After a long day spent jostling elbows, shifting your body in the small seat with inadequate leg room, waiting in lines and trying to avoid the coughs and sneezes of the people crammed in around you, you may never want to travel again.
Of course, traveling is not always bad. Sometimes you have a pleasant flight with gorgeous vistas, empty seats to stretch out upon, clean, working bathrooms, and edible or even tasty food.
Whichever way it goes, there are some aspects of air travel you probably will not be able to change or control. But you can take steps to protect your health and maybe avoid catching a cold or other infection.
Tips for Healthy Trips
1. Carry a bottle of water on the plane and drink it. Air travel is dehydrating. Adequate fluid intake (not counting caffeinated and alcoholic beverages) may reduce jet lag symptoms and help fight fatigue. The canned air dries out the mucous membranes of your nasal passages, increasing your vulnerability to viral and bacterial diseases that may be lurking. Drinking water helps keep the mucous membranes moist and it also helps with circulation in your body.
2. Long flights pose a very slight risk of blood clots in the legs. To reduce that risk, get up and walk around every few hours. Stretch and move your legs as space permits.
3. Wash your hands frequently to reduce chances of infection. You will be using the bathroom often with all that water you will be drinking.
4. Chew gum or yawn or swallow a lot during ascents and descents. This helps equalize air pressure in your ears.
5. If you are congested from a cold or allergies, you should seriously consider taking a non-prescription decongestant before takeoff. On long flights, take another before landing. Congestion can prevent the air pressure from equalizing and this can sometimes cause excruciating pain in the ears or sinuses.
6. Get a good, solid night’s sleep before you fly. Sleep keeps your immune system strong, which may help you resist infections.
7. Do not overeat on the plane. If you are prone to airsickness, do not fly on an empty stomach. Eat something light before your trip.