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How Can I Avoid Germs on a Plane Flight?

Having many people packed inside of airplanes makes it easy to spread germs.
Hydration is important to the immune system.
Commercial passengers are advised to use hand sanitizes after they touch items like handrails or the doors to aircraft latrines.
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  • Written By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
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Most people have fallen ill after taking a plane flight. As our throats feel scratchy and we start sneezing we wonder if it the recirculated air, the surfaces that everyone has touched after sneezing into their hands, the fact that we are sitting practically in our neighbor's lap, or even the fact that we didn't sleep at all on the red-eye flight that caused the illness. All of these are factors in catching a cold or the flu from your time on an airplane. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid germs on a plane flight and make your vacation — or your return home — much more pleasant.

Airplanes seem to be the breeding ground for many germs, in part because so many people are confined in such close quarters. If just a few people are carrying some kind of bug, it is easy to spread it to everyone else. One of the simplest ways to avoid germs on a flight is to follow your mother's advice: wash your hands. Use warm to hot water and soap, lathering and scrubbing for at least 30 seconds. If this is not possible, use hand sanitizing gel. If you are washing your hands in the airplane restroom, make sure that you open the door with a paper towel when you leave, because not everyone is likely to be quite so conscientious.

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Another important factor when trying to avoid germs on a plane flight is to keep your hands away from your face. If you touch the tray table, the armrest, or the magazine, you are essentially touching everyone who has touched these things before you. You absolutely do not want to put your fingers in your mouth or rub your eyes or nose after this — at least not until you wash your hands thoroughly. In addition, you may want to bring your own blanket, pillow, or scarf to cover the armrest or back of the seat, if you are really worried.

In addition to learning to avoid germs, it is important to equip your body to fight them. When flying, it is important to drink more water than usual because the air in an airplane is dry, and keeping yourself hydrated is important to your immune system. Instead of getting coffee, soda, or alcohol on a plane flight, drink plain water. Getting enough sleep is also essential. Many of us stay up late packing, but we should be going to bed earlier to rest our bodies for the journey.

Turning on the air vent may actually help push germs away from you, some experts say, although this is disputed. Also disputed is the effectiveness of personal air filters, but some people swear by them. A strange but effective way to avoid germs on a plane flight is to coat the inside of your nostrils with an antibiotic ointment. You can apply the ointment to a cotton swab and coat the inside of your nose to catch germs before they can enter your system.

Don't forget that, when you travel, your body is subjected to more stress factors than usual. Make sure you are eating well, since fatty, sugary, caffeinated foods will slow down your immune system and make you tired. Getting enough rest, eating well, and drinking plenty of water will help you in your quest to avoid illness and have fun traveling.

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anon936918
Post 2

All great suggestions. Also check out the Scough - a new germ and pollution filtering scarf that helps keep you healthy when you fly.

anon137861
Post 1

the air in an aircraft is not refreshed like it used to be when smoking was allowed. now only about a quarter of the air you breathe on an aircraft is fresh, the rest is recirculated. Therefore it only takes one person sneezing out an airborne virus and the chances are you will be breathing into your own body later on.

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