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Why Do I Always Get Sick After I Travel?


As I’m writing this, I’m blowing a boatload of fluids into a double layer of Kleenex that will get tossed into my studio bin, along with all the other spent tissues that have suffered the same fate. With a throat that feels like sandpaper, my voice has dropped half a dozen octaves lower, making me sound suspiciously like a drag queen. Not to mention my disgusting smoker’s hack that grosses me out every time it manages to escape my lips. And I don’t even smoke! Yes, folks, I’ve just wrapped up another 2 and a half weeks of travel and I’m sick. Again.

“I don’t get it!” I told my husband, Peter. “Hawaii was glorious and I did everything right while we were away!” Yep, the weather was perfect, we ate lots of salads and seafood, we swam and relaxed, and I never forgot to take my vitamins. 

So why do I always come down with a cold or flu after a trip?

I’ve got my own theory. When we visit foreign soil, we expose ourselves to viruses that we haven't previously encountered at home and for which we have not developed an immunity for. But according to Dr Irani Ratnam, from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Service at Royal Melbourne Hospital, “Traveling by plane increases your risk of respiratory infections, but more because passengers are crowded into a confined space than because of any recirculated air that you breathe.” 

According to Dr Ratnam, you're most likely to get sick if you are:
  • sitting within two rows of somebody who's infected
  • on a long flight – especially more than eight hours
  • on a very crowded plane.
"There's only so much you can do to protect yourself in a travel setting," says Dr Ratnam. 

Gee, thanks, doc. I feel better already. 

In the meantime, here’s what you can do if you’re a frequent traveler:
  • Increase your immune system, both at home and abroad, by creating a nutritional foundation for your body. e.g. following a well-balance diet, taking vitamin supplements, exercising regularly and not drinking excessively. 
  • Keep your distance from anyone who seems unwell prior to, and during, your trip. Don't sit near them in transit lounges. If you happen to be seated next to them on your flight, request a seat change once your aircraft is airborne and after the seatbelt sign has been turned off. Bad luck if the flight is full!
  • Wash and disinfect hands frequently while traveling and after visiting the toilet on an aircraft as you can pick up germs from handles, taps and tray tables. 
  • Hydrate your system continually by drinking roughly 8 cups of water everyday. Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to the cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.

For now, I’m focusing on getting my health back, from the inside out. I’ll test out my own health tips and keep you posted on how I go after my next trip! 

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Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 3rd October, 2013 | Trackbacks
Categories: Travel Tips
Tags: Sick after travel

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