How can exposure to bacteria during flying be minimized?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your exposure to bacteria during flying and minimize your chance of being sick on your trip.

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Pack an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your carry-on and use it early and often (after getting seated, before and after eating and drinking, and when you return from the restroom.) This step alone will reduce your chance of getting sick by 50%. 
  • Wipe your worries away. Bring along sanitizing wipes and clean your tray (which can harbor the dangerous MRSA bacteria) and handrails.
  • Be wary of the bathroom. Airplane bathrooms are some of the germiest places around. Wash your hands afterward, use a paper towel to open the door when you leave, and then slap on hand sanitizer when you're back in your seat.  
  • Arm your immune system. North American ginseng is a promising botanical product used to ward off flu. Populations that take it appear to have a lower incidence of viral spread. Try to be well rested and have any chronic conditions well under control before you travel. 
  • Aim the air. Make a fist with your hand and place it directly over your chest, then aim the air vent to blow onto it. That will give you the best airflow to protect you from being exposed to an infection.  
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will not only help your membranes to stay moisturized, but it will help keep you from developing potentially fatal blood clots in your legs, which crop up because staying immobile in a tiny space slows circulation. Also get up and walk the aisle once an hour.  

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