Health Beat 12-1-2003

Fighting Bugs in Flight

Travelers often complain of illness, particularly head colds, in the days following a flight. While a plane’s poor air quality often is blamed for the resulting sniffles, the close proximity of fellow flyers might be the real culprit.
    According to a July 2003 report by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for the Advancement of Health (, germs are passed more easily in confined quarters, plus the stress of travel taxes passengers’ resistance and makes them more susceptible to viruses.
    Simply staying calm on board might be one secret to avoiding illness. Other tactics to help you keep bugs at bay include drinking lots of water and limiting alcohol, which can be dehydrating. Taking frequent walks during the flight can prevent potentially lethal blood clots from forming, while washing hands regularly or using an alcohol-based hand-sanitizing solution can help you avoid the germs that linger on sinks and other surfaces.
    Eating well and getting enough rest during the trip also are smart ways to keep resistance up and help the body battle the bugs.