Airplane in the clouds.Dr. Lynn O’Connor recently returned from The 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting held by The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, in Nashville Tennessee. Here’s what she writes following the conference:

It was an amazing opportunity to network with some of the greatest minds and leaders in colon and rectal surgery, to learn new cutting-edge techniques, and to stay on the forefront of what’s new and innovative in the world of colon and rectal surgery. I took a phenomenal course in advanced endoscopy techniques to further enhance my skill in addressing those difficult polys and early cancers found on colonoscopy, as well as several other issues.

It’s important to me to stay current and up-to-date in order to provide the best care possible for my patients. And I want to assure all of my current and future patients, that as I go through my present work-related transition, I remain committed to continuing to provide you with the utmost care and compassion for all of your colorectal needs.

Staying Healthy While Traveling

During my flight home, I thought about the upcoming meetings and trips I have scheduled, as well as the fact it’s getting warmer – which means that summer is coming,  school is ending, and VACATION for many of us is right around the corner!

We all love to vacation and even though it can be fun, the stress of planning and getting there can be a lot. Whether it’s for work or relaxation, the trip itself can take a toll, so I also wanted to talk to you today about tips to stay healthy while flying.

  1. Get plenty of rest before flying. Sleep deprivation and fatigue can wreak havoc on your health and immune system, so resting up prior to your flight is important. And don’t try to count on sleeping on the plane to catch up on rest! Often times the sleep is choppy, interrupted and you cannot get a good comfortable rejuvenating rest.
  2. Drink lots of water. It’s extremely important to stay hydrated on the plane because that constantly recirculated air with low humidity can dry out your mucous membranes and make it harder for your body to flush out germs.  When the drink cart rolls around, try to stay away from the caffeinated coffee, tea, and alcohol because they can also contribute to dehydration and constipation. Tip: carry a large empty water bottle with and fill it once you’re through security or purchase your own bottle of water BEFORE you board the plane. There was a study from the Wall Street Journal from as far back as 2002 where they tested the water on 14 different airlines and found bacteria levels to be hundreds of times above U.S. government limits.
  3. Disinfect surfaces. Bring some Clorox wipes on the plane, especially if you have little ones traveling with you! Those armrests, seat back, and tray tables are often teeming with germs and bacteria. There is very little time to disinfect and clean between flights. And, if your putting your food or beverage on the table make sure to clean it first.  Also a side note: always wash your hands!
  4. Stick to your normal diet. Airport and plane food can be notoriously unhealthy and EXPENSIVE!! Try to plan accordingly and have a good meal at home before you go and bring healthy snacks like baggies of vegetables like carrots or cucumbers, healthy protein or granola bars, make your own trail mix with nuts and raisins and seeds, whole wheat crackers with peanut butter or hummus and simple fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas can go all way to keeping you full and staving off hunger.
  5. Stick to your normal routine. If you are flying to across time zones, you can become jet-lagged which just means your body’s internal clock is a little off. Try to stick as closely to your routine as possible. Try to eat at the same times you would normally eat when you are home and resist the urge to crash and go to bed when you get to your new destination. Try to stay awake as long as possible when you are there and just go to bed a little earlier than you normally would. This should go a long way to help the mental and physical fatigue of jet lag while traveling.
  6. Get up and walk. Make sure to get up and walk! Walk up and down the aisle and stretch to keep blood circulating and help to prevent a DVT or deep venous thrombosis, which are blood clots that can form in the veins of the lower leg and travel to the heart, lungs, and brain —  and can be lethal. This is crucial, especially on long flights. If you are prone to forming blood clots or if you think you may be at risk, follow up with your primary care physician before flying.
  7. Pack in layers. Some like it hot and some don’t! The temperatures in the airport and the airplane as well as at your final destination can vary significantly. Dress in layers to make it easier for you to peel clothes off and stay cool or add a sweater, wrap or socks to stay warm. Heat is very important in maintaining a healthy immune system, especially when traveling. Keeping the changes in extremes of your body temperature to a minimum may help to keep your immunity in check.
  8. Avoid the plane bathroom if at all possible. Most people know not to touch a public toilet seat as best as they can, but a lot of people don’t know that the simple act of flushing the waste can transmit germs into the air and onto nearby surfaces for several feet. So if you must use one the plane bathroom, try to stand as far away as possible when flushing and if there is a lid, use a paper towel to close it before flushing.
  9. Stay away from the complimentary pillow and blanket. Many of us like to cuddle up and sleep on the plane and we may ask for a pillow or blanket.  Often, the pillows and blankets are not washed and that’s a perfect medium to transmit germs and sickness. Just bring your own or refrain from using the airline’s. Also while relaxing, some of us like to kick off those shoes and socks. Resist the urge to walk around barefoot because the same germs that may be on the bathroom floor can get tracked all through the plane.

I hope these tips help you to travel safe and stay healthy especially during these peak travel times of the summer months. If these tips have been helpful, please share them with family, friends, and colleagues.  Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn, like me on Facebook and reach out to me on my website. Stay tuned for more blogs, healthy tips on working out, eating right, exercising and much more.  As always, until the next time- stay tuned, stay healthy, and be blessed!

Dr. Lynn M. O’Connor dedicates her practice to providing the foremost treatment, technology, and information related to preventive public health issues and colon and rectal health. An outstanding surgeon and health advocate, Dr. O’Connor is also the Director of the Women’s Colorectal Care Program for ProHEALTH Care Associates in the Greater New York City area. Click HERE to contact Dr. O’Connor’s office, or to schedule an appointment.

This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about health, med­i­cine, and related sub­jects. The con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked materi­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If you have a med­ical con­cern, you should con­sult with a licensed physi­cian or appropriate health care worker. If you think you may have a med­ical emer­gency, call your doc­tor immediately. The views expressed on this blog and web­site have no rela­tion to those of any health care practice, hospital, or other insti­tu­tion with which the author is affiliated.