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Your Healthy Family: Staying healthy when traveling

Posted at 7:57 AM, Dec 21, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-09 11:27:36-04

CLEVELAND OHIO – The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has many of us traveling by air or by vehicle to visit family and friends.

But all of that time commuting can easily take a toll on our health.

According to Dan Allan, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, sitting for long periods of time can put some people at risk for developing blood clots.

“The one thing that you want to do, during a long commute, is keep your blood flowing,” he said. “Get up and walk or at least flex your ankles when you’re sitting. Try not to cross your legs – that obstructs the blood flow back to the heart. Compression stockings are helpful, and hydrating is also very useful.”

In addition to the dangers of sitting for too long, holiday commuting, if done by air, can put people at risk for catching contagious respiratory viruses.

In fact, a recent study showed that airports are havens for respiratory bugs – as there are many areas of the airport that are frequently touched.

Among the areas tested, researchers found that plastic security screening trays pose the highest potential risk.

Another study says that limiting contact with others on the flight, by sitting in a window seat, as opposed to the aisle seat, may help reduce exposure to contagious illnesses.

Dr. Allan said limiting exposure to others is one way that we can reduce our risk of getting sick while traveling, but the best thing we can do is wash our hands as much as possible, and be mindful of what we have touched.

“It’s probably more important to wash your hands, to cover your mouth, don’t touch anything without wiping it down, and avoid touching your face with your hands, more so than where you sit,” he said.

Dr. Allan said when spending time in an airport, or on a plane, it’s best to assume everything we touch could have bacteria or viruses on it, to be on the safe side.

In addition to washing hands frequently, he said getting a flu vaccine, prior to travel season, is a must.