Did You Know | Health

10 Tricks You Can Use To Avoid Getting Sick On A Plane

Even for the most frequent flyers, traveling on a plane can be kind of a hassle. Between all the security check points, the lineups, and the screaming babies, there's a lot going on that you have to maneuver.

One part of flying that I think we can all agree is less than desirable is the fact that for a certain number of hours, you get trapped with the same stale air. While on the surface it may not sound so bad, the fact is, it means you're breathing in the same germ-filled air for a good, long time.

Every cough, every sneeze, and every sniffle are little indications of the gross little bugs that will likely make their way over to you because there is literally no way to avoid it.

Getting sick after riding on a plane is pretty common, with studies claiming that about 20% of people who ride on a plane end up with a cold after the fact. But why does this always happen?

Colds are suspected to be caused by low cabin humidity

Because the air is recirculated and because you are so high up, the humidity levels tend to drop. This causes the mucus in your nose and throat to dry up, destroying the natural defense system your body has in place. It becomes a lot more likely that you will end up catching a cold.

But there are ways to avoid it. If you want to stay healthy next time you travel, try these tips to make sure you avoid the airplane cold.

1. Wash your hands often

Even though you can always use hand sanitizer, experts say that it's not enough. Washing your hands for a solid 20 seconds, making sure to get between your fingers and under you nails will help you get rid of the 70% of germs that hide there.

While antibacterial gels say they get rid of 99% of germs, it's still important to wash first.

2. Avoid the tray tables

I know that it's convenient to have a little table to hold up your laptop or books, but it's easily one of the most germ-covered areas on a plane.

It's really not worth the convenience if it means you're going to get sick.

3. Drink hot water

Because it's so dry up there, you'll want to make sure you stay hydrated. But the best way to do it is with hot water.

While cool water is more refreshing, hot water will help you keep the membranes intact so they can do their thing (aka protect you from germs).

4. Pick a window seat

If you have the opportunity to select a seat, the window seat is your best bet. It means you won't have as much contact with other people which is a good thing when it comes to keeping those germs at bay.

5. Go ahead and use the air vent

Airplane Vents
KYTan/Shutterstock

While you might think that it would just be blowing more germ-ridden air on you, that would be wrong. Instead it's going to help the air circulate faster and keep the other germs away from you.

6. Do not use the pillows and blankets on the plane

If you need a pillow or blanket, make sure you bring your own. You do not want to use the ones they have, because unless you are the first flight of the day, chances are it's been used already.

Germs can survive for up to four days on even the plastic surfaces in a plane, so the fact that you're sharing something like a blanket or pillow is really risky.

7. Don't be afraid to ask to move

flight attendant
iStock.com/Ruben Ramos

If your seat mate is sick and you notice there are other available seats on the plane, go ahead and move. The people most likely to get sick are the people directly beside, in front, and behind the sick passenger, so if at all possible, you want to move out of range. If it's not possible, the flight attendants will tell you. While you might feel bad about annoying them, the worst they can do is say no.

8. Get enough sleep

If you are a nervous flier, you may find it hard to be relaxed before your flight, but do everything possible to go in having a full night sleep. If you are super tired on the plane, your body will have a much harder time fighting off the germs.

9. Use paper towel to open bathroom doors

Airplane Bathroom
Chameleonseye / Shutterstock

50% of people use the bathroom on a plane. If you want to avoid getting all those germs on your hand, grab an extra paper towel after drying and use it to unlatch the door.

10. Don't eat the food if it's not hot

We all know that airplane food is not really the best, but if you end up getting your meal and it's not heated up enough, chances are the germs and bacteria in the food will not have been properly killed off.

Airplane travel is one of those things that is convenient enough that all of this hassle is worth it, but definitely give these tips a try next time you travel to see if it makes it a little bit less stressful!

Source - New York Times / Smarter Travel / Huffington Post / The Globe and Mail / Time

Tanya has been writing for Shared for two years. She spends too much time thinking about dogs, Marvel movies, and ice cream. You can reach me at tanya@shared.com