From plane-hopping pathogens to jet lag and dehydration, international travelers confront an array of health risks while flying. Here are seven essential tips that will help keep you healthy during long flights:
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Stay Healthy on Lengthy Flights with These Tips
1. Keep moving
Blood clots and deep vein thrombosis are conditions that can develop during long, overseas flights. Walk up and down the aisles, or stretch to boost blood flow. Ask your physician about compression socks to help with blood circulation and to prevent swelling.
2. Wipe down your surroundings
Airplanes are covered in germs and bacteria. Carry a packet of alcohol-based sanitizing wipes to disinfect your tray table, armrests, seat belt, and seat.
3. Boost your immunity
Prior to flying, make sure you’re up-to-date on all of your vaccines. It often takes time to build immunity after vaccines are administered, so check with your doctor to see if you will need any recommended or required vaccines for international travel.
4. Stay hydrated
Dehydration is common while flying, and can disrupt your sleep cycle, worsen the physical symptoms of jet lag, and weaken your immune system. Drink plenty of water, and avoid sugary and alcoholic beverages.
5. Rest up
Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep before you take off, and when traveling across time zones, try to sleep on the plane to help readjust your sleep schedule.
6. Clean your hands
Germs are often passed through your hands. Be sure to keep your hands away from your face and to use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol after touching any surface on the airplane and before you eat or drink. Always use it after washing your hands in the plane’s bathroom — as water on planes can sometimes carry bacteria.
7. Use the air circulation
Air from the vent is adjustable. Always set your ventilation to a medium setting so that infectious diseases don’t settle into your personal space and are instead blown away by the air current.
For more information about staying healthy while traveling, visit Travel Health at the UPMC Center for Care of Infectious Diseases or call 412-647-7228 to schedule an appointment to discuss your travel itinerary.
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About Infectious Diseases
If you have a disease caused by bacteria, fungi, parasite, or virus, the UPMC Center for Care of Infectious Diseases can help. We have specialty units for prevention and treatment of HIV-AIDs, postsurgical and transplant infections, and illnesses caused by international travel. Our faculty research infectious diseases and participate in clinical trials to learn more and develop better treatment and prevention methods.