By Liz Ozaist, Prevention
1. Waves Of Nausea
More than 50 million Americans planned to book a cruise between 2010 and 2013. And multitudes of stowaways—i.e., germs—will likely tag along. But despite the fact that cruise ship outbreaks of Norovirus, which causes stomach flu, have made headlines, hospitals, schools, and daycare centers are where 9 out of 10 such outbreaks actually occur. We hear more about episodes at sea because cruise lines are legally required to report outbreaks to the CDC. The organization also loosely monitors ship cleanliness and recently gave its top rating to 36 popular vessels, including Carnival Liberty, Norwegian Dawn, Celebrity Century, and Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.
2. Sunny Side-Up
Bathing suit: Check! Fully loaded Kindle: Check! Two bottles of sunscreen for every member of your family: Seriously? That’s right. For adequate protection, you need to coat yourself every 2 hours and apply a lot more than you realize. Vanity alert: The thin skin on the top of your hands is a prime target for age spots.
3. Cabin Fever
Whenever you’re in a small, crowded place, you’re at increased risk of contracting germs, says Mark Gendreau, MD, an air-travel expert and vice chair of emergency medicine at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA. “Planes are often packed, and there’s also the issue of the very low humidity level on aircraft,” he says. “Your nasal membranes become dehydrated, which makes you more susceptible to infection from passing germs.” Aside from the obvious precautions—drink lots of water, use saline nasal spray, and keep your hands off your face—he advises turning the overhead vent above your seat to medium flow and directing the nozzle slightly in front of your face. Then, if someone sneezes, those 30,000 airborne droplets are less likely to rain down on top of you. Also, if you have a choice, sit at the front of the plane, which typically has the best ventilation. Finally, bring along an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes to clean your hands, tray tables, and armrests, which can be teeming with germs.