Problems While Flying And How to Avoid Them by Murray Grossan, M.D.

A recent Journal of AMA examined the difference in catching the common cold among passengers. They concluded that there wasn't much difference between the recirculated and the unfiltered fresh air. But they did find a high incidence of common cold between both sets of passengers. The poor allergic passenger today must deal with enormous problems while flying, in addition to the peanut sensitivity.

The planes are DRY. As the planes lower their cabin pressure, less moisture is contained in the air. Dryness means that thick mucus just sits there to allow bacteria to multiply. The antihistamine that the allergic person takes may add to the nasal dryness. To add to the insult, the cortisone nasal sprays also dry the nose. The preservatives in some of the nasal moisturizers may irritate the poor nose. This is even worse if you have had recent nasal surgery! No wonder allergic persons are worried about flying!
However, there are a few simple steps that can make the trip less of a problem for the allergic individual. Indeed, if the air is fresh, there is little or no pollen at 30,00 feet. This can be an advantage, as long as we don't allow the nose to dry out.
Steps to take:
* Avoid ice drinks. These may slow the nasal cilia and therefore promote infection.
* Avoid alcohol and coffee. Any caffeine can dry you out.
* Use a nasal moisturizer spray without preservative. One such is Breathe. ease XL Or, you can make it yourself. About every two hours is often the best plan.
* Carry your own tea bags, preferably a mint type, decaffeinated. You can always get hot water, but getting tea can be difficult. Besides, you need to drink lots of it to keep the nose moist, so having your own tea bags with you makes that easy.
* You can use Breath.ease XL Nasal Moisturizing Gel. This has the advantage of covering the nasal tissue to help prevent the virus from entering. The cold virus needs to contact the ICAM 1 on the nose, which is the portal of entry. If the ICAM 1 of the nose is covered and protected by the gel, this makes it hard for the virus to enter the body. Breathe. ease gel moisturizes at two levels: the nasal level and the cell level. The cell level being moisturized allows natural body defense elements to get to the invading organisms. The gel should be applied before boarding and about every four hours during flight. I usually recommend using it twice a day for two days after arrival. More information on this nasal gel is at . This gel is also useful for nosebleed due to dryness.
* Carry Kleenex with you. When the guy next to you starts coughing and sneezing, hand it to him so he can cover up.
* Once you arrive, after your flight, you can resume your prior allergy medications.
* There is an added benefit to drinking huge amounts of hot tea. The exercise you get when you need to go to the bathroom is helpful to prevent blood clots from sitting cramped and inactive. Other suggestions for avoiding blood clots are at
Asthmatics must, must, must carry their medications with them at all times. The more you need the medication, the more probable that you may lose it if it is in your luggage. Especially if you are going overseas, it's a good idea to have the medications in prescription containers. (my son had all his medication taken away because it was in miscellaneous doctor sample containers).
Speaking of overseas, I generally give my allergic patients two 3 cc disposable syringes to take with them. You can get most medications any place you travel, but the syringes may be boiled and reused. Having your own disposable syringes could be lifesaving.
Airlines try to follow diet restrictions but if your food allergy is severe, bring your own food with you as a backup after you have checked your special tray. Also you can't always expect the servers to know what a gluten free diet is. Check out what the kosher meal is like; usually that is plain and simple without mystery sauces.
Do have a pleasant trip!
BreatheEase can be obtained from

Aircraft Cabin Air Recirculation and Symptoms of the Common Cold
Jessica Nutik Zitter; Peter D. Mazonson; Dave P. Miller; Stephen B. Hulley; John R. Balmes
Journal American Medical Association. 2002;288:483-486