You try hard to stick to travel tips making sure you don’t get traveler’s diarrhea along the way lest your purpose of travel is defeated. One little thing you forgot is catching a cold virus on the plane while en route to the destination or on your way back home. Either way, it is not good. You don’t want to spend your days in bed or stuck in a hospital with a diarrhea or some other worse bug, rather than the beach or the exotic destinations you have all planned out.
A holiday is supposed to invigorate you so that you come back to your old life feeling a little more cheerful and enthusiastic. The purpose is defeated when you come back sick, even if it just a cold. Thus, you need to avoid getting sick while on travel. Don’t underestimate catching cold because it is very common. With a weak immune system, you can easily succumb to it with exposure in a plane. Start by Avoiding the Airplane Cold, which is a frequently ignored source. Independent Traveler – Travel Tips Section offers information about it and how to avoid catching one.
The Main Culprit: Low Cabin Humidity
The Journal of Environmental Health Research study … settles primarily on a single likely cause: extremely low cabin humidity caused by low humidity at high elevations…
…. At very low levels of humidity, the “natural defense system” of mucus in our noses and throats dries up and is crippled, creating a much more tolerant environment for germs to infect us.
This protective system, called the Mucociliary Clearance System, is your first line of defense against harmful germs and bacteria. To wit, if the common cold is pounced on by a sufficiently moist and percolating proboscis and throttled by your throat, you remain uninfected. Shut down those systems, and you’ll be suffering within days.
With this basic scientific information, Independent Traveler offers the following tips:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to counter the effects of dry air within the craft and to fortify your immune system. Staying hydrated will also prevent other common effects of dehydration such as cramps, headaches, stomach problems and fatigue. Use of nasal mists and drinking hot beverages can also keep your protective mucous membranes hydrated and working.
- Keep your hands clean. Your hands are the most common source of pathogens as you touch contaminated surfaces with unseen cold, flu and other pathogens. Keeping your hands clean by washing them often may not be easy in a plane; use alternative hand disinfectants such as alcohol-based hand products as often as necessary (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- Don’t forget the dental hygiene. Like washing of hands or use of disinfectants, mouthwash can also provide extra protection and keep your throat hydrated. Keep in your carry-all bag a small bottle of mouthwash for use while on a plane travel. A 3-ounce or smaller bottle is necessary to comply with carry-on rules for liquids.
- Take your vitamins. Though there are no conclusive studies that vitamins can protect you from colds, there are good reasons to believe they can reduce the severity of colds or flu.
- Wear a face mask. This will physically prevent infection caused by airborne germs (NIH), a major source of cold virus infection.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” goes the adage. In this case, the prevention is worth all the fun and adventure of a wonderful holiday. It is also worth great days ahead after the holiday. These ways are practical, easy and will not cost you much, so there is really no argument here. Hydrate, keep your hands and mouth sanitized, take your vitamins, and wear a mask – simple reminders to avoid cold and flu while on the plane.