Have a safe (and healthier) flight

Bring your own reading material to avoid the germs crawling around in your seat pocket.

The question
Every time I fly on an airplane, people all around me are coughing and sniffling. How can I avoid getting sick and ruining my vacation?

Sitting on an airplane surrounded by coughing, sniffling and sneezing neighbors is unnerving indeed. Aerosolized droplets contain the viruses that spread colds, and a number of scientific studies have documented the presence of illness-causing bacteria and viruses on surfaces of airplane cabins and restrooms. These upper respiratory infections and the gastrointestinal viruses that cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are easily transmitted from person to person. They can be inhaled or transmitted when you rub your eyes, nose or mouth after coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using hand sanitizer is the best way to avoid catching and transmitting these illnesses. Avoid shaking hands if possible. If you are particularly vigilant, wipe your tray tables, arm rests, seat console controls and overhead buttons with disinfectant towelettes, and ignore seatback magazines and pamphlets. It may attract unwanted attention, but germophobes can wear a disposable surgical mask while onboard. And in hotels, don’t forget to wipe down the TV remote control.

Traveler’s diarrhea also can be inconvenient, so if you go abroad, avoid eating raw food and vegetables, only drink or brush your teeth using bottled water and ask for no ice cubes in your drinks.  
If you do get sick, bring a stash of your favorite over-the-counter cold, cough and flu remedies along in a first aid kit. As a last resort, ask your doctor for “just-in-case” prescriptions for antibiotics to cover respiratory illnesses and traveler’s diarrhea, which may save the day if all else fails.

— Mark Melrose, DO, is a board-certified emergency physician at Urgent Care Manhattan. E-mail him your questions at askdrmark@metro.us.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…