5 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Post-Flight Flu

Planes and airports are filled with germs but you can reduce the chances of being affected while you travel.

Planes and airports are filled with germs but you can reduce the chances of being affected while you travel.

If you always seem to get sick after a vacation or work trip, know that stress and eating poorly are not the only reasons why this happens.

According to a study by the Wall Street Journal, airports and planes carry and spread the common cold like wildfire. In fact, travellers have a 20% higher risk of getting sick after flying.

According to the Journal of Environmental Health and Research, low cabin humidity is the most likely cause of illnesses post-flight. When humidity is low, mucus levels in the nose and throat drop, which makes the body more prone to cold and flu germs. The mucociliary clearance system is what wards off these germs, so when it shuts down, your body is much more defenceless.

How to Reduce Your Chances of Getting the Flu Post-Flight

1.Keep Your Hands as Clean as Possible

Your hands come into contact with so many different surfaces, so keeping them clean will help reduce your chances of picking up cold and flu germs at the airport or during your flight. If you actually had to pay attention to how often you touch your face during the day, you would realise how easy it is to bring germs into contact with your nose and throat. Cold and flu germs can survive for hours on most surfaces, so rather assume that a surface is dirty and wash your hands after touching it. Understandably, it’s not possible to wash your hands every single time you touch a surface, so at least aim to wash your hands after using the bathroom or before you eat a meal or snack. Carrying a hand sanitiser around with you will also help keep your hands clean on the go.

2. Give Your System a Boost

Several days before you travel, try increasing the amount of nutrient-rich foods you eat and speak to your physician about a vitamin supplement. Even a simple vitamin C supplement is known to make a difference before travelling. Building up your immune system several days before your trip will give your body a fighting chance against the germs that await you at the airport.

3. Stay as Hydrated as Possible

Flying can be dehydrating on its own but staying hydrated in the hours leading up to your flight and during your flight will benefit your immune system and prevent other side effects such as fatigue, cramps and headaches. Your nose and throat are generally the first to suffer once your body starts to dehydrate, which is why increasing your water intake can prevent germs from making you sick after your trip. You can also speak to your physician about a nasal mist that you can use during and after your trip.

4. Your Mouth Carries Germs Too

Not many people realise how important dental hygiene is for warding off colds and flu. Not only will a good mouth wash keep your throat moist but an anti-bacterial mouth wash can also provide you with some added protection during your flight. Most pharmacies stock travel-sized mouth wash that you can keep in your carryon luggage.

5. Use the Overhead Vent to Your Advantage

By keeping your seat’s overhead vent on, you can keep germs away from your face. To get the vent at the right angle for this, place your hands in your lap and make sure the air is hitting your hands. Unfortunately, it might not be realistic to keep this on throughout your flight, so you could also go the route of a face mask if you’re serious about not getting sick during or after your business trip or vacation.

Getting sick while you’re travelling is no fun but it does happen. Luckily, the Air Doctor app is available should you find yourself experiencing cold and flu symptoms during your trip.


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Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.