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Airplane Health Hacks: 5 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick on a Flight

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We’ve all been there—you’re so excited for your big vacation but by the time you get there, you feel a tickle at the back of your throat, a serious case of the sneezes, or maybe a Charley horse has taken control of your left calf. Ouch! Sure, air travel is by far the most efficient way to travel, but being packed inside a vessel with strangers dealing with varying degrees of health can be a breeding ground for everything from sinus infections to stomach bugs and bad backaches.

Add to that the irregular air pressure, lower oxygen levels, extended time seated and impacted blood circulation and it’s no wonder you might not feel your best by the time you reach your final destination. Thankfully, there are a few health hacks you can employ to ensure that disease or discomfort don’t derail your big travel plans. Bon voyage!

Alcohol wipes are a must

Wipe down your tray table, arm rests, seat pocket, tv screen and most importantly your air vent. When it comes to preventing illnesses from seeping into your space, a clean air vent is your biggest ally. Point the vent down towards your lap, rather than directly on your face to avoid blowing airborne germs into your eyes, nose and mouth. To truly avoid any germs getting on your hands and subsequently your face, skip the seat pocket entertainment entirely. Magazines, brochures and books touched by people from all over the globe are a surefire way to get sick.

Wear layers

Always travel with layers to avoid any discomfort caused by temperature drops or increases. Pack layers that you can easily add or remove and keep your arms and legs covered in case you get cold. Scarves are the ideal accessory to quickly warm up or use them as a shield against nearby sneezes and coughs.

Have H20 on hand

Planes are not the best places to stay hydrated. With low humidity levels drying out your mucous membranes, you’re more susceptible to dehydration and viruses, too. Add to that pressure changes, bubbly beverages, like soda or seltzer, and salty snacks, and you’ll end up looking and feeling bloated and dried out by landing time. Before you step foot on your flight, drink a full bottle of water and sip on another throughout your journey. Avoid any form of alcohol—it’s a diuretic and will only contribute to your discomfort and dehydration.

Stretch your legs

Ever notice that your shoes or wedding ring feel a little tighter throughout the duration of your flight? That’s because your body swells and retains water when you’re at high altitudes, like 31,000 feet above ground. To eliminate some of that swelling and discomfort, it’s wise to get up a few times mid-flight to stretch your legs. If you’re on a long flight, you might want to stroll up and down the aisles as well. On top of stretching out your limbs, this will help ward off the chance of developing blood clots. If you’re not in the mood for a quick trip around the aircraft, there are a few seated exercises you can try. The easiest? Simply point and flex your feet for a few minutes every hour to introduce movement.

Properly prepare for your trip

It’s easy to get run down before your big trip. Between tying up loose ends at work, packing your suitcase and planning your travel itinerary, you’re probably pretty wiped out by the time you board your flight. But traveling when worn out is the recipe for acquiring an airborne illness. Plan accordingly during the week leading up to your trip, eat healthy, stomach-soothing, immune-boosting meals, stay hydrated and maintain a solid sleep schedule. If you want to take it an extra precaution—add vitamin C or Airborne chewables or tablets to your diet ahead of time.

Get more information on how Independence Blue Cross can be a part of your plan for health and wellness.