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How To Avoid Infection While Traveling By Airplane

On The Airplane

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Avoid blood clots

  • Walk around the cabin at least every 40 minutes. 
  • Light leg exercises will stimulate blood circulation. 
  • Loosen your clothing if it is tight. 

Do what you can to avoid getting an infection.

  • Wear an infection blocking face mask. 
    • A mask will likely feel strange at first, but you will get used to it.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before taking the mask from its container and putting it on.
    • When you eat or drink:
      • If you take the mask off, place it in a germ free area.
      • Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching your mask.
    • If the mask becomes moist, change it.
  • Avoid sitting next to anyone with a cough or cold. If you find yourself next to someone showing signs of illness, explain to a flight attendant that you need a change of seat. If there is room, he or she is likely to accommodate your needs. If the attendant is resistant, you may need to disclose your medical condition.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water and keeping nasal passages moist with a saline spray can reduce your risk of infection.
  • Restrooms are generally not sanitized during flights. To avoid infection, if you must use the restroom:
    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol based sanitizer to disinfect your hands.
    • Use a tissue or paper towel when you have to touch anything in the bathroom such as the toilet lid, faucets and the door handle.
  • Disinfect tray tables.
  • Keep your hands away from your face. Wash your hands  or use a sanitizer often, but still keep them away from your face. No matter how often you clean them, it is difficult to keep hands from coming in contact with other people's germs. For instance, on the arm rests, the seat, blankets, pillows, or seat-back pockets.
  • Open your air vent, and aim it so it passes just in front of your face. Filtered airplane air can help direct airborne contagions away from you.
  • Don't use seat back pockets. Another person's personal items, including used tissues, may have been stored there.

On long flights, moisten mucous membranes by dabbing the immediate inside of each nostril with unmedicated petroleum jelly. This will help repel cold and flu viruses. If you can purchase unmedicated petroleum jelly before you fly, ask the flight attendant if he or she has something that could moisten your mucous membranes.

Only eat foods that are well cooked.

If you start to have a medical emergency, immediately contact a crew member.

While most staff are only trained in basic CPR and how to use a defribrillator, expect that most crew won't know much more than where the emergency medical equipment is stored. However, the crew can ask whether there are trained medical professionals on board who can help. Most U.S. airlines also have arrangements with medical institutions or private companies that provide in-flight medical advice in the event of an emergency.

If necessary, your flight can be diverted to an airport in an area in which you can receive approrpriate medical care.

Avoid dehydration

  • Drink lots of fluids, ideally 4-5 oz. per hour. Since it is sometimes impossible to get enough fluids while on the plane, consider buying a liter-sized bottle of water before you board. Since 2006, you will have to purchase the water after you clear security.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. They increase dehydration.
  • The best liquids to drink are those without caffeine such as Ginger Ale, Lemon-lime soda, canned fruit juices and bottled water. Undistilled water may contain harmful bacteria. Always wipe the top of a bottle or can before drinking or pouring.

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