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Germ Warfare

On today’s health and beauty buzz, I am discussing “germ warfare”. I am a self confessed “germophobe” and drive my family crazy at times, by insisting that they leave their shoes in the garage, wash their hands and go for an annual flu shot.

Summer in the northern hemisphere is one of the years busiest travel seasons world wide. Millions of people are boarding airplanes, trains and busses to get to their destinations.

Research has shown that the high incidents of colds and flu after flights is caused primarily by the low level of humidity present in the cabin.

Here are a couple of things one can do to attempt to stay germ free whilst flying. Dry air sabotages the natural defense system of the mucus membranes in the nose and throat making it easier for germs to enter the area at the back of the throat where the nasal passages meet the mouth.

  1. Stay hydrated both before and during the flight by drinking plenty of water. This will keep the mucus membranes moist and better able to fight germs.

  2. Nasal saline spray and nasal moisturizing sprays flush germs from the nose.

  3. Hot drinks are good as they provide moisture to the membranes as you inhale the steam. Try to stick to teas or hot chocolate. The caffeine in coffee is dehydrating.

  4. Make sure you have a good stash of disinfecting wipes in your purse and disinfect the surfaces around you. Wipe the arm rest, tray table and seat back in front of you. Do not touch the seat pocket in front of you. People place used tissues and even dirty diapers in these. The rhinovirus (common cold) can live on surfaces for 3 hours. If possible, keep your personal items in a disposable bag next to you or under your seat which you can toss away later.

  5. Use your own pillow or cover the airline pillow with a cover that you have brought with you. Use your own wrap or sweater as a blanket to cover you with.

  6. Open air vents above your seat as far as they can open so that the air can move the germs away.

  7. Do not drink alcohol whilst in flight. It depresses the immune system.

  8. Attempt to change seats if you are seated next to or behind a sick passenger.

  9. Avoid touching your face especially your eyes and nose. If you suffer from a compromised immune system or have an illness that may affect your ability to fight infection, wear a face mask whenever possible whilst onboard.

  10. Close the toilet before flushing. Bacteria filled mist can travel several feet every time you flush, spraying towels, toothbrushes and surfaces, including you. Line the seat with the paper liners provided in most public restrooms or use toilet paper to cover it before sitting down. Flush the toilet using a piece of toilet paper. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and use paper towel to turn off the faucet. Open the door by pushing it with your shoulder or foot or use paper towel if you need to grip a handle. Fecal matter is found on the floor and will find it's way onto your purse. Hang your purse on a hook or keep it on your lap and don’t ever place it on the floor. Needless to say, it will also find its way onto the bottom of your shoes along with as many as 9 species of bacteria which cause infection in our stomach, eyes and lungs. 90% of bacteria are tracked onto the floors of our homes by our shoes, where they remain. Carpets harbor even more germs.

  11. Whilst no supplement is proven to prevent colds, many people swear by high doses of vitamin C, zinc, echinacea or garlic.

  12. Sleep helps improve your resistance to fight infection from the cold virus, so remember to rest up once you get to your destination.

Tip of the day: Remove your shoes before walking into your home. Carry them to wherever you wish to store them and then wash your hands.

Stay healthy, happy and safe.

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This policy is subject to change at any time.

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