What the Yuck: Does flying make me sick?
July 8th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

What the Yuck: Does flying make me sick?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

I have to travel a lot for my new job. Will I get sick more often if I'm a frequent flyer?

That's a good question - more and more of us worry about coming down with something from the recycled air on planes. But actually, that air is probably better for you than most air in office buildings. It's well filtered before it's blown back out, so it shouldn't make you sick.

However, being in a closed cabin with all those other passengers (some of whom may be sick without showing symptoms yet) can increase your chances of catching a cold, flu virus, or some other nasty bug.

And it's not just the others on your flight you have to worry about: Previous fliers might have left behind more than a completely-filled-in Sudoku—namely, germs—on the seat, seatbelt, magazines, headrest, or overhead bin.

That's why it's a good idea to bring antibacterial gel with you (in a container smaller than 3 ounces, of course) and even some antibacterial wipes (for wiping down your seat). Use the gel frequently while traveling, and especially before eating.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

Next entry »
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Matt

    I travel by air quite frequently on long-haul (12+ hour) flights. The most important things you can do are to wash your hands frequently and keep them away from your face, particularly your mouth, nose, and eyes. This will reduce the opportunities for introducing bacteria and viruses into your body.

    Other things I do, and I rarely get sick, are:

    Use a paper towel to open the toilet door to protect yourself from all the people that don't wash their hands. Try to get plenty of sleep to help keep your immune system strong. Also, use those anti-bacterial wipes on your tray table, and don't eat any food that falls onto it. They are very rarely cleaned, and pretty much never sanitized.

    Other than wearing a face mask, there's not a lot you can do to protect yourself from fellow passengers who are sneezing and coughing out nasties.

    July 8, 2011 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Marion

    Why a face mask works for me: In the late 90's, I began having to fly 6 to 8 times a year.More often than not I ended up sick after a plane flight. I decided to use a face mask every time I flew, and just deal with the potential embarrassment. After all, wearing a mask was less embarrassing than being sick instead of functional after I reached my destination.

    Since so many experts kept saying a mask wasn't likely to help, I was pretty surprised when it turned out to help a lot. Eventually I realized that the mask keeps me from touching my nose, eyes and mouth by accident. Since I only take it off to eat, or drink water, I can make sure my hands are sanitized first.

    This has completely been worth it to me. Using the precautions that Matt lists above, plus the mask, has virtually eliminated my sick-after-flying problem. Plus, the mask I use (from Icanbreathe.com) also blocks most particulates so I have no asthma problems from jet exhaust or mold in the cabin, and its carbon layer absorbs perfumes that I would react to. It's been a huge win.

    July 8, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BS

      Great SPAM. Totally not believable. If it's your hands touching your face, you'd just use hand sanitizer and spare yourself the potential embarassment of wearing a mask for no good reason. (Of course, your story is totally made up....)

      July 10, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
  3. samuraishonan(at)bloodspot(dot)com

    My philosophy is that germs are healthy. I bite my nails to keep up with it. Yes, I have asthma too, but wearing a mask is a waste of time.

    July 11, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. zortilonrel

    Magnificent web site. Plenty of helpful information here. I am sending it to several buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks on your effort!


    January 5, 2021 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. vreyrolinomit

    I have been examinating out a few of your articles and i must say pretty nice stuff. I will surely bookmark your site.


    January 5, 2021 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. https://europa-road.eu/hu/gepszallitas-arak-gyor.php

    Only wanna say that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this.


    February 9, 2021 at 05:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. ClarkTauts

    qzydn epy3o ntps

    March 1, 2021 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ed pills online

    erectile tissue function https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile dysfunction in children

    April 15, 2021 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. purchase vardenafil online

    vardenafil 20mg tablets https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil tablets 20 mg

    April 15, 2021 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. buy tadalafil us

    generic tadalafil united states https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil 60 mg for sale

    April 15, 2021 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. zithromax strep throat

    z pack generic name https://zithromaxes.com/ azithromycin 500mg chlamydia side effects

    April 21, 2021 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. injectable erectile dysfunction medicine

    buy topical alprostadil gel https://alprostadildrugs.com/ iilegal sales of alprostadil

    April 24, 2021 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. sildenafil 100mg from india

    sildenafil generic price https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil 100mg paypal

    April 27, 2021 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine 90 mg buy priligy online

    April 30, 2021 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. avana

    buy avana online avanafil buy

    May 1, 2021 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. what is clonidine

    is chloroquine phosphate over the counter https://chloroquineorigin.com/ is chloroquine over the counter

    May 8, 2021 at 04:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. stornobrzinol

    Just wanna comment that you have a very decent site, I enjoy the design and style it actually stands out.


    May 13, 2021 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. combigan

    brimonidine combigan 5 ml

    May 23, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. cyclomune

    cyclomune cyclomune eye drop

    May 24, 2021 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Soosteemocush

    https://tadacipetadalafil.com/ tadalafil cost walmart https://tadagatadalafil.com/ – tadalafil drug where to get tadalafil

    May 25, 2021 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. combigan

    brimonidine generic generic combigan

    May 26, 2021 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Soosteemocush

    generic cialis online fast shipping buy cialis pills where to buy generic cialis online safely tadalafil order online no prescription https://tadalafilww.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. vardenafil vs tadalafil

    tadalafil alcohol tadalafil bph mechanism tadalafil price at walmart

    June 3, 2021 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. cialis 20mg

    tadalafil sublingual buy cialis tadalafil medication

    June 5, 2021 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. covid cure

    does chloroquine work hctz medication is chloroquine an antibiotic

    June 6, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. malarone

    does hydroxychloroquine cause heart problems chloroquine malaria prophylaxis hydroxychloroquine treats

    June 7, 2021 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. www.pharmaceptica.com

    tadalafil peptide https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 26, 2021 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.