Does it seem like you always get sick when you travel? You aren’t alone. Packing a bunch of people in a confined airplane cabin during cold and flu season is a recipe for the sniffles. To avoiding sneezing your way through the holidays, take some precautions to stay healthy when you fly.
Most people blame recirculated air when they catch a cold after a flight. But researchers have found that this likely isn’t the case. After surveying 1,100 passengers—half of whom traveled on planes with recirculated air; the other flyers used 100 percent fresh air—they found that nearly 20 percent of travelers developed a cold within a week of flying, whether they breathed recirculated air or not. In other words, those in-cabin HEPA filters seem to really do their job well.
Still, science has uncovered several factors that make you more likely to catch a bug when flying. So the next time you take off, keep these things in mind.