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How to avoid catching colds while traveling

According to a recent health study, you may be more than 100 times as likely to catch a cold on a plane as you are in your everyday life. It pays to take some health precautions when flying.

Before you fly:

  • Going into a flight with a healthy immune system is a good start. Make sure you are hydrated and well rested in advance.
  • Some experts dispute the effectiveness of immune-boosting antioxidant products like Airborne, but I take one tablet before each flight and have yet to get sick from flying. (Editor’s Note: On March 6, after this tip was originally published, the makers of Airborne settled a class-action lawsuit for making scientifically unsubstantiated claims about their product’s effectiveness.) Similar products include AirShield, sold at CVS, and Emergen-C Immune Defense.

In the air:

  • Sip water throughout your flight. Research has shown people typically get sick on planes because low-humidity cabin air dries up their sinuses and throats, making it easier for germs to infect them.
  • Keep your hands clean. Use hand sanitizer frequently. In restrooms, use a tissue to flush the toilet and turn faucets.
  • Don’t waste your money on air purification filters. There is an array of devices purported to eliminate germs from the air you’re breathing. However, most airplane air is already filtered and your tiny stream of purified air won’t do much good if you move away from it.
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