Seven Ways Travel Wreaks Havoc on Your Health
Even the sunniest of island getaways has a dark side. While vacation itself can make you happier and healthier, the process of getting there--close quarters, hours of immobility, the wrench in your usual routine--means confronting a barrage of health hazards. Arm yourself against the attack with these stay-well strategies:
The Culprit: Sniffly Seatmates
The biggest threat to your short-term health is the bleary-eyed, runny-nosed dude sitting next to you. But even when you're safely ensconced in 33E, you may still be exposed to pathogens from Sneezy up in Economy Plus. A 2014 MIT study found that the droplets in coughs and sneezes form buoyant gas clouds that can travel clear across a room--or plane.
The Defense: In addition to your usual hand-washing routine, use a spritz or two of saline nasal spray when you board, and drink 8-12 ounces of water every couple hours, says Clayton Cowl, M.D., chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. "The ciliated cells in your upper respiratory system that sweep out foreign invaders work most efficiently when they're hydrated," Dr. Cowl explains. And keep the vent above your seat open to help air circulate. "It's not a surefire prevention measure, but cool, dry air moving around you is a less hospitable environment for pathogens," he says.