You may be sick of the long lines and detailed inspectionsat airports these days, but you can get really sick when youfinally get on the plane. A study by scientists in theUnited States finds that one in five passengers becomes illafter flying, and the figure is even higher for people whotake long flights.
John Balmes, of the University of California in SanFrancisco, examined 1,000 airplane passengers and found thatone in five say they caught a cold within one week offlying. Women reported catching more colds than men.
At first Balme thought this had to do with the type ofventilation used on planes. However, his study showed thatthere was little difference between passengers who traveledon planes that used recycled air and those on planes with afresh air supply.
“I think there’s a fairly universal feeling that flyingincreases your risk of getting colds and other infections,but air circulation may not be the key issue. Filters usedon planes with recirculated air are designed to filter outinfectious particles and they may be doing a good job,?Balmes says. “It may be that just being on a plane, packedwith a lot of people is the primary factor in transmissionof colds, or maybe traveling is the issue — changing timezones and losing sleep have been documented to increaserates of viral infections.?
Even if you don?t catch a cold on the way, you?ll probablyarrive with jetlag. Leon Lack, of Flinders University inAustralia, has developed hi-tech glasses which prevent themental and physical fatigue that come from crossingdifferent time zones. Wearing the glasses for just a coupleof hours before and during flights could help adjust thehuman body clock.
Diodes that emit blue and green light are attached to theframes of ordinary sunglasses and are powered by a batterypack in your pocket. The lights stimulate the brain and windthe body clock backwards or forwards.
Light plays a key role in helping the human body decidewhether it should be asleep or awake because it triggers theproduction of the hormones that help our bodies tell whattime it is. This is why it can be so hard to get out of beduntil you raise the blinds and let some light into your bedroom.
Australian athletes are especially interested in the jetlagglasses, since they will have to travel such a long way tothe 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. David Pyne, of theAustralian Institute of Sport, says, “The glasses would makea big difference because it would minimize the disruptionand athletes could maintain their continuity of trainingfrom day one, which could have important physical and mentalimpacts on performance.”
Don?t risk your health–stay home and read. Travel toancient America with ?Atlantis in America? by George Eriksonand Ivar Zapp and ?Secrets of the Ancient Incas? by MichaelPeterLangvin,clickhere.
To learn about catchingcolds,clickhere.
To learn about jetlagglasses,clickhere.
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