CareNow® - December 17, 2019

A fear of flying is one of the most common phobias—and those who suffer site a number of reasons they are afraid to hit the skies.

For some people, it is the fear of crashing mid-flight or the lack of control felt during a flight. Yet, for others, the fear is more focused on their health during (and after) the flight.

But is this fear really reasonable? In the past nine years, one person has died on a U.S. commercial airline. On the other hand, nearly 40,000 people die every year in automobile crashes in the United States.

So how do you get over this fear so you can focus on keeping yourself healthy while flying?

Learn the Truth About Germs on a Plane

Many people worry that getting on a plane will make it more likely that they are going to sick.

Believe it or not, being on an airplane may actually make you less likely to catch a virus, not more.

On a plane, air is exchanged more frequently than it is in other locations—and the filters that are on airplanes are able to catch about 99 percent of germs floating through the air.

In order to get sick from being on a plane, you would need to be seated in close proximity to someone who’s already sick.

You are actually more likely to catch a virus in the airport than on a plane. Just think about how many people are touching those TSA security bins!

Once you have gone through security, it is a good idea to wash your hands with warm and soapy water or to use a hand sanitizer.

Choose Your Seat Wisely

When selecting your seat, it is best to choose a window seat in order to benefit from more air flow.

Airplanes are designed so that the air flow comes directly from the top of the cabin, exiting via vents on the floor by the window.

This air flow keeps germs moving and less likely to settle where you are seated.

Keep Medications Nearby

It’s smart to pack any medications you will be needing on your trip in a carry-on bag so you have access to them, even if your plane is delayed or your luggage is lost.

You may also want to write down all the medications you are bringing on your trip for medical professionals to access in the rare case that you become ill or are no longer able to communicate.

If you are taking a longer flight, it’s a good idea to bring notes your medical history—especially if you have a history of medical problems.

Get the OK from Your Doctor Before Your Flight

Altitude can trigger a number of health problems like lung, heart and intestinal ailments.

While not always necessary, if you have recently been sick or undergone a surgery, it is smart to visit a medical professional before your flight.

The pressure changes that occur on a plane can also cause gas and bloating, which can be a problem for someone who recently underwent gastrointestinal surgery.

A travel medicine specialist is a great choice to visit before your travels since he or she should know even more about the topic than your general practitioner.

Bring Wet Wipes on the Flight

Just because planes are generally safe doesn’t mean they’re completely free of germs.

Many germaphobes hate the idea of touching a seat, arm rests or tray table that so many others have touched before them.

While the airline staff do their best to clean up in between flights, they typically only have time to pick up loose trash and wipe down the seats.

Consider packing your own wipes that are at least 62 percent alcohol so that you can clean your space prior to takeoff—especially that tray table!

Don’t Forget to Move

When you sit in one place for a long time, you put yourself at risk of deep-vein thrombosis, when a blood clot forms within a vein.

While airplane travel itself is not a cause of DVT, the fact that you’re sitting on a plane for a long flight can lead to a blood clot.

For long flights, it is a good idea to walk up and down the aisle whenever possible. You may also benefit from doing small exercises while seated, such as moving your toes up and down or flexing your calf muscles.

Compression socks are another great option to prevent deep-vein thrombosis as they can help increase the blood flow in your lower legs.

Stay Hydrated During Your Flight

Because the inside of airplanes usually do not have much humidity, it is easy to become dehydrated while on a flight,

To avoid this, it’s recommended that you increase your water intake and stay away from alcohol and caffeine, which serve as diuretics.

If you’re still thinking about ordering an alcoholic beverage, you should also know that the decrease in oxygen on a flight (as a result of the altitude) can cause the alcohol to go to your head quicker.

Be Smart About Your Decisions

It’s just common sense to get a good night’s rest for your travel—ideally eight hours if possible.

The night prior, try to eat a healthy dinner and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Be sure to heed all safety tips given by the flight attendants prior to the flight, such as wearing a seat belt.

It should also go without saying that if you are feeling under the weather yourself prior to traveling, it may be smart to reschedule your flight if possible.

If you have concerns about upcoming travel or are feeling under the weather prior to a planned flight, visit your local CareNow®.

With more than 100 urgent care clinics throughout the U.S., CareNow® is ready to give you the care you need, when and where you need it.

You can also avoid the waiting room completely by utilizing our Web Check-In® feature prior to your visit!

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.