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All the Ways You Can Get Sick on Planes (and How to Avoid Said Ways)

Air travel is the fastest and safest way of getting from one destination to the next, but sorry to tell you, if you’re onboard with a sick passenger then the risks of their virus being transmitted to you are pretty high.

According to Business Insider, in a study funded by Boeing, scientists from Emory University and Georgia Tech investigated the likelihood of getting sick while onboard and found that those who were seated in the same row as an ill person, or directly in front or behind, were 80 percent likely to contract their bug. And there are many different ways you can get sick on planes, these include ...


The stomach flu is not exactly something you want to experience when you’re in a confined space with a bunch of strangers and the toilet cubicle is so small you can hardly move, but unfortunately, research has indicated that the norovirus can be contracted on planes, Health reports.

What to Do About It

If you have the stomach flu, then according to WikiHow, sucking on lemon wedges could help settle your stomach. Also, put on the ventilation, ask for an aisle seat, and drink lots of water and avoid caffeine.

And as a precaution, bring medicine onboard with you, like an anti-diarrheal pill.

Food poisoning

Like the stomach flu, food poisoning is something passengers can experience if the airplane food is contaminated.

What to Do About It

If you end up with food poisoning there is little that can be done while on the flight, so it's best to come prepared. According to One Mile At A Time, the remedies that work best are activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar.

A precaution you can take to avoid food poisoning is to bring your own snacks and food like fruit, nuts and protein bars are healthy and nutritious for during your travels. It’s also hard to digest foods high in salt and saturated fat while flying, so avoid anything deep-fried, heavy in carbs, or high in salt.

Ahead of the flight, eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid sugars. According to Branch Basics, sugar suppresses the immune system, increasing the risk of becoming sick due to bacteria, viruses and other stressors.

Motion sickness

Motion sickness, or airsickness, is a condition that affects many people and can result in nausea, vomiting, and dizziness (among other symptoms).

What to Do About It

According to AirDomoliti, ways to prevent motion sickness include eating a light meal before flying because an empty stomach could exacerbate your condition. The publication also suggests choosing a window seat during the day to focus on the horizon and a middle seat at night.

Bring medication on board to help fight the symptoms, or chew minty gum (the chewing stimulations digestion) and focus on your breathing.

A cold virus

Bacteria is everywhere on planes; on the seat, the headrest, the tray table, the magazines … you get the picture. According to Skyscanner, research has found that these germs can live for hours and even days after the passenger has departed the plane, and you can become infected if you touch these surfaces and then touch your mouth, nasal passage, or eyes.

According to Health, influenza spreads through respiratory droplets, and when in confined spaces for a long period of time there is a risk of contracting the virus.

What to Do About It

If someone is coughing and sneezing right next to, apart from asking to move to a spare seat, there's not much you can do about it. You can, however, prevent illness from bacteria by not touching your face, and regularly washing your hands — carry an antibacterial waterless hand gel with you.

Skyscanner also suggests wiping down surfaces with an antibacterial wipe.

Other illnesses

Viruses that are airborne can be transmitted while on a flight, and according to Health, Vicki Stover Hertzberg, a professor at Emory University, revealed that MERS, measles, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and tuberculosis can be contracted when in close proximity to someone who is infected.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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