We're always traveling but the holidays mean that you're logging more flights than usual. Traveling also means you encounter a few unwanted travelers - germs! We took some time to chat with Celine Thum, Medical Director of Paradocs Worldwide, Inc to identify germy areas, how to stay safe when we are under the weather and more.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What are 5 "germy" areas on a plane even for those that are flying first class and what/how can we combat this?
CELINE THUM: A message to all travelers, the actual risk of catching a serious communicable disease during air travel is no different from if on a bus or train, however, those that are on larger flights have a higher risk of catching a disease. Even boarding processes have an impact on transmission — if front boards first, there is more clustering of people while passengers find a spot for their overhead baggage. Most importantly, you should notify an airline employee if don’t feel well as you are putting your own and others’ health at risk.
Tray tables: People place all kinds of objects such as money on tray tables and use it for personal things, from filing nails to changing a diaper. It catches respiratory droplets and is a big source of germs, as it is frequently touched (and eaten off of!). In addition, they are not cleaned during turnaround. Pack disinfecting wipes for this area right in front of you.
Carpet and bathroom floor: Don’t go barefoot! The carpets are filthy, and the bathroom floors covered in urine.
Blankets and pillows: they are thrown around overhead and sometimes cases never changed! Bring an extra fleece sweater and your own pillow when traveling.
AM: Sometimes we fly when we have a cold, what can we do to nurse ourselves back to health in flight?
CT: Because the high altitude can increase sinus pressures, cold symptoms can be aggravated by flying. Steam from hot beverages can open up nasal passages, and chewing gum can encourage equilibrium for difficult to pop ears. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and keep tissues around to keep your nose decongested and clean
AM: What should we pack in our carry-on in case we get the sniffles or need to stay refreshed while traveling?
CT: You should definitely pack eyedrops and lotion, as the recirculated air is very drying. If you wear contacts daily, consider glasses for the flight. I always keep a face wipe, Vitamin C with Zinc, Benadryl, and Ibuprofen in case I get allergies or a cold!
AM: How can we prepare our bodies for flight prior to boarding and post boarding?
CT: Make sure to practice good sleep and hygiene, as frequent changes in time zones and poor sleep can weaken your immune system. Drink plenty of water before the flight, and make sure
to walk around or keep legs moving to prevent blood clots from forming. Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for during the flight to kill bacteria.