26 Feb Fly Flu Free: Keep Your Tray-Table in the Upright Position
The flu is like the weather: everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything about it!
Let’s just cut to the chase: it’s flu season. Even worse, it’s the nastiest, most contagious flu season many of us have ever seen! This is a safe bet, since the clear majority of us were not around in the aftermath of the First World War, with the Spanish Flu eliminating any good feelings that marked the end of that long and bloody conflict. Talk about a tough decade.
The flu is like the weather: everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything about it! Most people think that because influenza is a virus, that there isn’t much that can be done to prevent it’s spread, especially when traveling. Not true! There’s a lot of things that can be done before, during and after trips to prevent the acquisition and the spread of the dreaded flu bug.
Before Your Trip
Avoiding the flu begins well before you are doing any travelling. A flu shot in the fall may seem early and unnecessary but it’s the simplest and most effective way to stay healthy. It works best if you get one every year, since the flu virus mutates quickly, rendering even the previous year’s immunization useless.
It’s also very important to keep one’s body in good shape all year-long. A well-rested person who exercises regularly, avoids too much alcohol and generally takes care of themselves is going to be miles ahead of someone who eats poorly, is only active sporadically and lives the life of a couch-potato.
There are also many natural supplements that you can take to boost your body’s defences. Oregano oil, echinacea and even simple vitamin C are all going to lift your immune system. The flavonoids in green tea fight viral infections by keeping viruses from invading host cells. Probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the body, further strengthening one’s defence mechanisms. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer are good habits, too.
These strategies are the easy part. They are done in the comfort of your home, in a space that you control. So, what about when you must leave your cozy little nest for work or for pleasure? At the height of cold and flu season it can be a scary proposition. Let’s look at ways to keep healthy on that most dreaded of all transportation modes – the airplane.
Now Ready for Boarding
Trapped. Stuck. Helpless. That’s the feeling for many people when they get on a plane. The good news is that there are many strategies for not getting sick while flying. Some of them may seem like overkill but getting ill is serious stuff and demands your serious attention. Here are some of the best ways to avoid the flu:
Wear a Mask
Travelers to Asia regularly see people wearing masks in public places. It’s quite common and is seen as a basic way of preventing the transmission of viruses. Although it may take some getting used to, it is an excellent way of isolating yourself from bacteria. Try it on a short flight first and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. There are lots of fun and fashionable mask options, too!
Traveling by plane is enough of a risk that you’ll want to carry on with good health practices long after you’ve arrived.
Bring Sanitary Wipes with You
We’ve all heard about how hotel room items like remote controls are veritable “petri dishes” of germs. Can you guess the most disgusting part of a plane? It’s the tray table! It boasts more germs than the toilet, the overhead compartments and the seatbelt buckles combined. Wipe all these surfaces if you must use them and then wipe that tray table a second time while you’re at it. If you do need to use the bathroom then of course wipe all surfaces you will come into contact with.
Sip Water Throughout your Flight
Small sips all flight long will keep you hydrated better than the occasional big gulps. Non-caffeinated hot drinks like herbal tea are even more effective because the steam hydrates dry protective membranes. Stay away from beer, wine and caffeinated drinks as they will all contribute to dehydration.
Bring your Own Blanket and Pillow
You don’t honestly think that airline blankets and their papery pillows are clean and made for only one use, do you? The flight attendants just gather them up and fold them between flights. Who knows where they’ve been or what they’ve been exposed to? Buh-bye!
Easy access to the washroom isn’t always the clever move; the aisle seats are where all the viral and bacterial action are. When a sick person heads off to the bathroom, they are often grabbing the aisle seat-backs to steady themselves, wiping off all sorts of nasty germs and stuff as they pass. A window seat is the smart play.
If someone near you is showing signs of illness, ask the flight attendant if there are any empty seats you might move to. They will always be understanding about such a request, after all, they work in airplanes for a living. Don’t be shy!
Use the Air Vents
Airplane vent air is surprisingly clean. Open the vent and point it below your nose to blow away any stray germs and viruses that may be in your vicinity.
Bring your eye mask and earplugs and try to take a nap. The fewer objects on a plane you touch, the better. You’ll arrive at your destination well-rested and ready to go!
After You Arrive
Traveling by plane is enough of a risk that you’ll want to carry on with good health practices long after you’ve arrived wherever you’re headed. You can’t let your guard down at this time of year. Nasal salt rinses are an excellent way of flushing your system of any latent germs that are just hanging around and waiting to pounce!
Carry on with good eating and sleeping habits because it usually takes three or four days for cold and flu symptoms to make their appearance.
Rest and reduce your activity levels to fight the flu virus and allow repair to happen.
Following all these steps will decrease your chances of catching a cold or the dreaded flu bug. But you never know! Let’s now look at ways to cope with the flu once you’re sure you’ve got it.
But I Never Get Sick!
You got sick. Don’t beat yourself up, it happens to the best of us. It’s going to be a lot easier if you just accept it. The bad news is that there is no cure for the flu. The good news is that it normally doesn’t last more than a few days and with the right approach, you’ll be back in tip-top shape in no time flat. Here’s what you need to do:
Slow it Down
Rest and reducing your activity levels are key points in allowing our body to fight the flu virus and allow repair to happen. You’re not going to feel like doing much anyway, so this isn’t going to be a big sacrifice. Don’t try to be a hero and come back too fast, either. This can lead to a relapse and the chance of getting other people sick, too.
Lots of Fluids
Drink clear fluids and sports drinks to keep hydrated and replace lost electrolytes. Ginger tea and small amounts of soda can held reduce nausea. Avoid caffeinated drinks, acidic juices and alcohol, which will not allow your stomach to quickly get back to normal.
Keep Your Diet Plain
It’s unlikely that you’re going to be hungry but it’s still a good idea to eat a bit. Starchy things like crackers, rice, potatoes and toast are good because they don’t promote nausea. Bananas, yogurt and apples in small amounts can help fight diarrhea. Stay clear of dairy, spicy options and high-fat foods.
Using over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen will help relieve the fever, aches and pains you’ll be feeling. There are also a ton of natural, herbal remedies to try.
Getting the flu isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak or lacking in character. It likely means that you’re in for a rough couple of days and you’ll need to take proper care of yourself while your body fights the virus. Use the time to binge-watch The Handmaid’s Tale, read a book or research vacation spots you always wondered about. Most important is to keep your sense of humor and look forward to feeling better soon!