(NewsUSA) - As summer kicks Americans' travel plans into gear, doctors start seeing more patients -- travel exposes tourists to all sorts of communicable bacteria and viruses. But with a little preparation, vacationers can enjoy sun and sand without catching coughs and sniffles.
Many people believe that planes' closed environments help germs spread, but in actuality, a normal airplane cabin circulates air more often than the average office building. And patients shouldn't worry about germs on blankets or pillows, either. Such items are carefully cleaned between flights, making contamination unlikely.
But airplanes do help germs spread in other ways. While the air in the cabin isn't stale, it is dry. On long flights, this desert-like air dries out passengers' mucus membranes, making them more susceptible to infection. Travelers can reduce their risk by staying hydrated, preferably with bottled water.
Passengers can also take steps to kill any germs that do land in their nose, mouth or eyes. An alcohol-free germ-protection spray, such as MyClyns, can be sprayed into the eyes, mouth, nose or minor cuts and abrasions, where it kills germs before they cause infection. Long used by first responders and health care professionals, MyClyns germ protection spray steps in where sanitizers may fail.
"The skin is an amazing organ and does a wonderful job protecting us," says Dr. Donald Locasto, Medical Director of the Cincinnati Fire Department and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati. "But germs are given a fast track to enter when we touch our eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. You can't spray hand sanitizer into your eyes -- its active ingredient is essentially alcohol."
That said, hand sanitizer is a must-have for air travelers. Passengers should wash their hands frequently, but on a plane, there's no guarantee that the water is not contaminated. For this reason, travelers should wash their hands with soap and water, then follow-up with hand sanitizer.
Air travelers can also reduce their risk by requesting a new seat when they're placed by obviously sick passengers, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and making sure that they are healthy and well-rested before flights.
As Dr. Locasto asserts, with precautions, "the only malady this year's savvy travelers will be afflicted by is a longing for a bit more time off."