Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Travel: How To Get On A Plane And Not Get Off Sick

Returned to San Miguel last night . . .

The week at Olympia in Las Vegas was terrific -- learned a lot, saw a lot, and as always, I just like Vegas.

The only downside to the trip started at the beginning the trip -- a woman seated directly behind me on the flight from Houston to Las Vegas was coughing, sneezing -- she was clearly sick.
And, she made me sick.
This happens more than occasionally and leads me to the conclusion that traveling is not healthy.  In addition to catching a cold or the flu, there is the issue of exercise, or the lack thereof, the impact of changing time zones on sleep, and the seating which, unless you fly first class everywhere you go, is bad for posture and the back.  
Like most of you, however, a good deal of my earnings are the result of traveling, so I travel.   
How best to travel and not get sick?
Contrary to popular opinion, you're not likely to get sick from someone 10 rows away from you on the plane.  Rather, the risk of onboard transmission of infection is mainly restricted to individuals with either personal contact, or seated within two rows of an infected passenger on flights longer than eight hours, according to Dr. Mark Gendreau, senior staff physician at Lahey Clinic and author of a recent study on medical issues on flights.
Typically, airplane air – about half from outside and half recycled after being passed through filters – enters at the top of the cabin. From there, the ventilation system keeps it from flowing forward and backward in the plane, limiting it mostly to the immediate row, before exiting through grilles in the cabin floor, which means not everyone breathes the same air.
Tips to staying well . . .
1.  Do not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth during the flight.  (Infection occurs when viruses or bacteria are sprayed from infected people in droplets from a cough or sneeze. The pathogens can then be picked up when passengers touch their tray table or the arm of their seat, and then rub their eyes).
2.  Wash your hands frequently or use a sanitizing gel during flight.  
3.  Stay hydrated in the arid cabin environment.  (I've found that if I'm in coach class they are never going to bring me enough water to stay hydrated and so I bring a 2-liter bottle of water with me.)
Even with these precautions, you may find someone seated in the same row or next row who is sick.  In the future, no more Mr. nice guy.  I'm going to ask to be reseated and I'm not going to be hesitant about saying why.
More on traveling and staying healthy in future blogs.
Train hard; diet harder.

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