7 Secrets for Healthy Flying

10th, 2012
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1. Use the airport restroom. Even airport bathrooms are cleaner than the ones on planes, so go before you get on board. That way you reduce toilet trips and better avoid germs during the flight.

2. Wash your hands thoroughly. Use lots of soap and hot water. Then hold a paper towel as protection when you turn off the water, so you don’t have to touch the tap.

3. Buy a big bottle of water. Now that you’ve gotten through security, go get a big bottle, start guzzling, and bring it with you on the plane.

4. Moisturize your nose. Use a saline nasal spray to irrigate and moisturize the mucous membranes inside your nose. Some frequent fliers also swear by applying a bit of Neosporin or Vaseline to the insides of the nostrils. This is an old tip for preventing nosebleeds, but it can work to protect against dry cabin air as well.

5. Eat yogurt. According to some nutrition research, the beneficial bacteria in yogurt have a protective effect on your immune system. One study found that eating a daily cup of low-fat yogurt reduced susceptibility to colds by 25 percent. Researchers think the beneficial bacteria may kick the immune system into high gear to fight off viruses.

6. Remove contact lenses before you fly. If you don’t like to wear your lenses while you fly, plan to remove them ahead of time in the airport bathroom. Touching your eyes is one of the primary means of transmission for cold and flu viruses, which can make their way through the tear ducts to the nasopharynx — the “sweet spot” for cold viruses, where nasal passages meet the mouth at the back of the throat. Avoid touching your eyes with germy hands by washing hands first, then removing lenses before you fly.

7. Take immune-boosting supplements. There’s still little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of supplements such as vitamin C, Airborne, echinacea, and zinc lozenges. In fact, Airborne was recently required to settle a lawsuit for falsely making such claims. But it’s also true that with the exception of Zicam, a zinc supplement that’s been accused of damaging users’ sense of smell, there’s little harm that can come from arming your immune system with extra nutrients. Vitamin C is the least supported by science at this point; echinacea and the other herbal ingredients in Airborne have the most likelihood of being proven effective.

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