Dr. Oz: Airplanes and Your Health

Last week took part in a conference call with Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and some other websites to talk about the subject of healthy travel.

Dr. Oz had some excellent advice for air travelers as they head out for the holidays (and we all know just how easy it is to come down sick after a flight!) According to Dr. Oz,

We expect about four million travelers this weekend in the air, so it’s a good time to get into this topic. A couple of issues: The air vent systems in planes are designed to be sucked in through the wings and then circulated through the cabins, and usually you divide the plane into four to seven cabins. And the air circulates from outside to inside, and it creates a laminar flow. That means that if you cough in the middle seat, the person one seat behind you and over to the aisle is the one that gets most of the cough in their face. So at strategically, it’s not the person around you that’s coughing; it’s the person in the middle of the row in front of you that’s coughing that’s a problem for you.

Lest people think it’s not a big deal, there was one nice study done where they looked at passengers flying from San Francisco to Denver and there was a patient on the plane that was ill. And within two weeks, 20 percent of the people on the plane had gotten the virus and had been ill. So you actually can get quite sick on these planes.

One little tip that is pretty effective is, if you put on the air vent above your head and put it on low and aim it – put a fist in front of your chest and aim it at that fist. That creates a microcircuit around you of airflow that helps push away air from other people that might be coming towards you, so – as opposed to turning off the air vent or blasting your head with it, aim it at your chest, just the front of your chest, put it on low, and that should for many people at least help with the laminar flow issues.

Other big issues are, 60 percent of those tray tables in some studies have significant quantities of bacteria like MRSA, so you might want to clean off the table in front of you with a sanitary wipe, and use that same sanitary wipe for the bathroom handles as you walk in and out of the bathrooms in the plane.

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Photo courtesy The Dr. Oz Show

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