Is the Airplane Plague Real?

By Sara Butler

Many people claim that flying makes them sick, and that’s not just an urban legend. The thing is, the reason behind increased rates of illness after air travel may not be for the reason you think. Here’s what you need to know about staying healthy as you head out on your spring travels!

The Air

Most people think that illness on airplanes spread like wildfire because of the recycled air in the cabin of the plane, but it turns out this isn’t the case at all. While it is true that plane air is dry and can make you dehydrated, it’s not the source of illness on planes. In fact, tests have confirmed that the air in the cabin of an airplane is not different in quality than the air in your average office building.

The air in a plane is recirculated, but only about 50 percent of it. The plane takes in air from the outside to mix with recycled air, and it passes through a HEPA filter before it ever gets to you.

One thing you want to be careful of on flights is that you drink enough water. That low air humidity can make you feel different than when you boarded the plane and not in a good way!

The Real Health Issue

You may not find this surprising, but the real culprit behind getting sick on airplanes is the surfaces you touch that are crawling with germs. You should avoid touching objects on airplanes such as:

  • Toilet sets
  • Seatbacks
  • Tray tables
  • Soap dispensers
  • Armrests

All of these surfaces can harbor germs that will definitely make you sick if they are introduced to your body (avoid touching your eyes or mouth). When these surfaces have been tested in the past, they reveal a large number of cold and flu germs, and there’s no protocol for airlines to clean those surfaces between flights, either.

What You Can Do

If you want to try to stay healthy during your next trip, you need to take a few precautions. You should:

  • Avoid obviously sick people
  • Turn on the air vent above your head
  • Stay hydrated
  • Keep your hands clean

Remember, hand sanitizer is your friend when you travel, so take the allowed amount on board with you and use it to sterilize your seat, seat belt, tray table, and hands for the trip ahead so you can arrive healthy and happy!

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.


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