The Travel Bug

Dr. Paul Clayton
Health
29 October
 

Travel broadens the mind, they say. But it can also make you sick, and being sick abroad makes life complicated – try describing your symptoms to someone who doesn’t speak your language! It can be very expensive, especially if your health problem necessitates a trip to the hospital, or an unplanned emergency flight home. And it can ruin your holiday.

But the fact is, many of us do get sick. We fly in pressurised aluminium canisters at 30,000 feet (40,000 if you fly Norwegian), and at these heights there is less atmospheric shielding – so you get exposed to more ionising radiation. A trans-Atlantic flight is roughly the equivalent of 4 whole body X-rays (maybe 5 if you fly at 40,000 feet), and that knocks your immune system back.

You are inhaling the same air that all your fellow air travellers are exhaling, and while the HEPA filtrations systems used by modern airliners remove most bacteria, they do not filter out viruses. And they cannot protect you from the unhealthy looking gentleman in the row behind you who keeps sneezing and coughing just behind your head.

Then when you get to your destination, you come into contact with a new group of people who have what is called herd immunity to the locally prevalent pathogens – but which you have not encountered before. So where they are immune or tolerant, you are not. And if you are visiting a part of the world where hygiene standards are not as high as the ones at home, the locals will generally have stronger immune systems due to the fact that their diet contains trace amounts of 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans.

When you start planning your next holiday abroad, take some basic precautions. Organise your:

  • visas,
  • pack your sunscreen,
  • beach clothes and children (optional),
  • and throw a box of Xtend or Protect into your suitcase. This will give you the best chance of staying healthy until you return home. For best results start the supplements a day or so before you set off, because it takes about 48 hours for the immune system to fully wake up. And also because of airports …

The average airport is crawling with bacteria and viruses from all over the world. The most contaminated sites are not the bathrooms or the restaurants, but the plastic trays used to carry luggage and personal items through the X-ray scanners. So after you get through security, we recommend you wash your hands!


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