I’ve heard there’s a link between catching colds and flying. Am I more likely to get sick if I travel on a plane?
Yes! According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Research, plane travelers are up to 113 times more likely to catch a virus than their ground-bound counterparts.
Why is this? The study put forth a series of potential culprits: fatigue, low outside air replacement, dry cabin air, and proximity of people to one another in a small space. While all of these may play a part, the researchers found that an airplane cabin’s low humidity — which weakens humans’ defenses against infection — is likely the greatest factor in passengers’ heightened susceptibility to infection.
Use these preventive tactics to keep from catching a cold the next time you catch a flight: Get plenty of sleep before your trip, stay well-hydrated, wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face or mouth. Boost your immunity pre-flight by supplementing your diet with medicinal herbs, such as astragalus, garlic, ginger and ginseng, and medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake, reishi and shiitake.
For even more helpful information on staving off infection, check out our comprehensive article 19 Ways to Prevent and Treat Colds and Flu.
Photo by Fotolia/Subbotina Anna: Preventive tactics such as getting plenty of sleep and staying hydrated can help prevent sickness when flying.