How to Avoid Getting Sick on an Airplane
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A viewer asks The Doctors on social media about the best way to avoid getting sick on a plane. Also, do those face masks actually help prevent getting bit by the bug?
The Doctors joke that those masks make them uneasy. “When you get on the plane and half the people have masks on, that’s when I get scared,” says plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon. OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry says she always wonders “are they trying to protect themselves from me, or me from them?!”
Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra shares that there is actually a purpose for those masks. A study from the International Journal of Infectious Disease found that those masks were extremely effective in the prevention of the spread of the flu. She says that since most flus are viral, they can be spread by the drop of saliva. “Think about it as a barrier in both directions.”
Since so many respiratory diseases are airborne, Dr. Ordon says to turn the air vents on a plane straight down to help the droplets fall straight toward the ground.
Dr. Batra shares another study from PNAS which looked at the spread of the flu in relation to where people sat on a plane and how often they went to the restroom. The scientific study had researchers take five flights from Atlanta to the West Coast, four of which were during flu season. They measured the number of interactions people had in each seat – aisle, middle and window – and how long people took in the bathroom (and which bathroom, front or back, they went to).
They did a huge algorithm and the statistics showed that 80% of aisle seat occupants got up, 62% of the middle seat, and 43% of the window seat. The end results showed that you are least likely to get sick if you sit in a window seat because you don’t get up and have as much contact with as many people.
Vivica A. Fox asks, does it make a difference if you use sanitizing wipes to wipe down all around you when you sit down on the plane? Dr. Batra says that yes, and she is that crazy lady who does that! She read a horrifying study that found strains of E. coli and staph live up to 72 hours on the seatback pocket in front of you, the tray table, and the side arms.
Dr. Ordon sums it up, where you sit on the plane counts, and don’t be afraid to wipe down those seats!