While still considered the safest way to travel, taking to the skies can hamper your health. Before you board your next flight, heed these alerts for avoiding illness during this hectic travel season:
Stand up and walk the aisle regularly to avoid blood clots and cramps. One study reported by the World Health Organization found that flying for 4 hours or more increased the risk of deep vein blood clots by 3 times over periods of non-travel. Researchers suggest the odds may be greater for people who are obese, pregnant, on hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives, or have an inherited clotting condition.
Wipe down the tray table, arm rests, and side panels with disinfectant wipes. A University of Arizona researcher found that 60% of tray tables tested positive for the superbug MRSA.
Drink plenty of water during your flight — the low cabin humidity can dehydrate you. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends asking for bottled water. A 2004 test confirmed bacterial contamination in the water supplies of over 17% of evaluated flights. Ask if the ice and water for tea or coffee come from the galley tap or a vendor. If you’re concerned about washing with lavatory H2O, consider wiping down your hands with disinfectant cloths or gels after use.