Flying the Friendly, Healthier Skies: 9 Tips From a Frequent Flyer

Interview Dr. Mimi Secor. Here are some talking points on the subject of air travel and our health. Dr. Secor addresses some of our common concerns when flying and offers some practical tips to mitigate the risks associated with this form of travel.

The holidays are coming up and you know what that means . . . increased travel to visit with loved ones!
Whenever we take a flight—any flight, short or long—germs and other health risks abound. What exactly are we exposing ourselves to?
Common Health Concerns While Flying
  • Germs are common on airplanes particularly on surfaces in the seat areas and bathrooms.
  • Many communicable diseases can easily spread on airplanes. A timely example is the measles. Measles is highly contagious because it is air-borne and uniquely infectious because it can remain in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the room/air space.
  • Another common infection is the Norovirus, which is highly contagious and can spread quickly in confined areas like cruise ships and airplanes. Prevention involves hand-washing with soap and water and disinfecting contaminated surfaces. Alcohol-based cleansers are less effective.
Measures That Can Be Taken to Have a Healthier Flight
  1. Drink lots of water. This will help combat fatigue, reduce hunger, and help prevent headaches and other complaints related to travel.
  2. Minimize caffeine and alcohol because both are dehydrating. In addition, alcohol can cause excessive fatigue that may worsen travel fatigue. It is very important to remember that travel is tiring under the best circumstances.
  3. Reduce your salt intake. Minimize salty foods while traveling to reduce the risk of bloating especially in the ankles.
  4. Whenever possible, get up and move around. This reduces ankle swelling and the risk of having a blood clot. If you are unable to get up (due to turbulence) then wriggle your feet which will help your circulation and particularly the blood flow in your legs.
  5. Bring healthy food on your flight. Either purchase food or bring it from home. Typically, airplane food low in protein and high in sugar, fat and salt.
  6. Pay extra attention to your hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and hot water before boarding the plane. When seated, use disinfectant wipes to clean the arm rests, tray, light buttons, ventilation knobs. After using the bathroom, wash your hands then use a tissue to open the door. This prevents contaminating your clean hands. If you sneeze, cover your mouth or sneeze into your elbow. If you are seated and unable to wash your hands in the bathroom, simply wash your hands with a hand sanitizer.
  7. Get extra sleep before, during and after you travel. Travel is stressful and extra sleep will help prevent illness and also it will help minimize jet lag and travel related fatigue.
  8. Bring OTC medicine. Consider taking a baby aspirin (81 mg) before flying to prevent a blood clot from forming in your legs especially on long flights. Check with your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about taking this medication.
  9. Avoid disembarking the plane with a pain in the neck—literally. Bring a supportive neck pillow to prevent neck and back pain.
Implementing these simple measures will help you stay healthy and happy when you’re flying the friendly skies!

Available for Interviews: Dr. Mimi Secor

Dr. Mimi Secor
is a popular National Speaker and Consultant, educating advanced practice clinicians and consumers around the country and the world. She is the author of the book, Debut a New You: Transforming Your Life at Any Age.

Jo Allison
Success In Media, Inc.

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