These days, as work has become global and families are spread out, most of us have to fly. Unfortunately, the confined and often crowded space inside an airplane can quickly turn into a breeding ground for infectious diseases.
Not all passenger vessels are designed with air filtration systems. While most passenger jets have sophisticated filtration systems to keep airborne viruses from spreading, infections still spread simply because of the close proximity of other people.
Viruses and bacteria can survive for many hours on the surfaces of seats, tray tables, seat pockets, even armrests. High altitude and dry air compromises the body’s ability to defend itself, and fatigue plays a strong role in making travelers more susceptible to falling ill.
The recent death of rap star Dwight Arrington Myers, or Heavy D, after flying from England to L.A. underscores the danger of sitting for long periods of time. Myer’s death was a result of deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. The CDC has long linked air travel with the development of blood clots, or thrombus, which break off and travel to the lungs.
5 Steps to Staying Healthy While Traveling
The following are the recommended precautions to implement to stay healthy while traveling:
- Stay hydrated with clean water at all times.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before touching food.
- Bring your own pillow, blanket, and earphones.
- Open the air vent above you and aim it in front of your face to blow virus-carrying particles away.
- Disinfect the tray table, armrests and remote controls as soon as you are seated with individual sanitizer packets.
Also, it’s important to recognize the risk of blood clots is elevated when taking a long trip of any kind: by plane, by train, by automobile, by bus. Therefore, it’s crucial to get up and move around periodically or at least wriggle your legs, lift them up off the floor, point your toes, and jiggle frequently. Staying hydrated also helps according to the CDC, and consider opting for the aisle seat so you have more opportunity to stand and move about.