Preboarding secrets to staying healthy on your flight

What you do before you board could keep you from getting ill. (AP)

Darci Marchese,

WASHINGTON — If you’re flying for the holidays, the last thing you want is to end up arriving at your destination sick.

With that in mind,, put together a list of pre-boarding health secrets used by frequent flyers that help to protect against colds, flu and other ailments.

  • Carry an empty bottle through security.

    With airline cutbacks, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a drink on the flight, so be prepared. Since you can’t carry a full bottle of water through security because of new security measures, bring an empty bottle and fill it up before you board. Staying hydrated is important because airplanes lack humidity, which dries out your mucous membranes and makes it harder for your system to flush out germs.

  • Use the restroom before boarding with caution. points out the closer you stand to the toilet, the more you’re in the line of fire. Microorganisms on or in the toilet bowl can disseminate into the air after flushing. Airplane bathrooms are among the germiest public restrooms.

  • Prevent dry eyes.

    When your eyes are dry, you’re more likely to rub them, which helps to transmit cold and flu viruses. Before you board the plane, wash your hands thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes. If you wear contact lenses, remove them before boarding and wear your glasses on the plane.

  • Pack a blanket and pillow.

    Even though few airlines provide blankets anymore, the ones they have can harbor germs. So if you like to snuggle on the plane, bring your own.

  • Eat a healthy meal before you board. reports the FDA found unsanitary and unsafe conditions in many of the catering operations that provide food to the airlines. Don’t chance it, bring your own.

  • Beware of the bar.

    Alcohol can be very dehydrating. Drinking prior to a flight can lower your resistance to cold and flu germs.

  • Prevent ear pain.

    Air pressure changes during the flight make many people’s ears hurt. If you’re congested, the problem may be magnified. Pack some gum to chew during takeoff and landing or try yawning and swallowing to relieve the pressure.

  • Pack to prevent congestion.

    Since the air is extremely dry, bring a bottle of nasal saline spray and use it before you fly. If you’re congested, take a decongestant prior to the flight.

  • Include yogurt in your preflight breakfast.

    Yogurt is cultured with lactic acid and the probiotic bacteria can strengthen your digestive system and immune system. recommends eating or drinking yogurt several days before you fly.

  • Boost your immunity.

    Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens.

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