Dr. Anzaldua: Yes. Physical and emotional stress can have a negative impact on our immune system, the system in charge of fighting off certain illnesses and infections.
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Dr. Anzaldua: While there is no “zero risk” for either spreading or contracting SARS–COV–2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 illness), traveling during the pandemic is still possible but you must take safety precautions to reduce the risk of viral transmission. If you have symptoms, please avoid traveling at all costs. If you recently tested positive for the virus or have been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19, travel should be avoided or delayed.
Dr. Anzaldua: This information is easily found on the CDC.gov website. You should also check to see if your final destination, domestic or a broad, has any travel advisory restrictions with respect to testing or self-quarantine requirements. This generally applies to all forms of travel including train, bus, ship, etc. Self-quarantine (usually a 14-day period) may be voluntary or mandatory.
Dr. Anzaldua: Please follow the current public health measures currently recommended by the CDC, such as wearing a mask properly fitted, covering both mouth and nose when in public settings such as airports, train or bus stations, etc. Practice recommended hand sanitation using soap and water or hand sanitizers that contain least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching frequently touched services.
Dr. Anzaldua: Currently studies indicate that viral infections do not spread easily during air travel due to current technology used for air circulation and filtration. If at all possible, however, social distancing with physical separation of 6 feet or greater is still recommended.
Dr. Anzaldua: Bring a mask to wear in public settings, especially in large crowds. In fact, I would recommend packing extra masks just in case. I would also pack travel size hand sanitizer bottles. Make sure both are close at hand.
Dr. Anzaldua: Although there are no current vaccinations or recommended outpatient treatments for COVID–19, if traveling abroad please check to see if any other vaccinations are recommended or even required prior to travel.
Dr. Anzaldua: If you made airline reservations a while ago, you may want to check with your airline carrier to make sure that your flight reservations are still confirmed as some airlines may have changed or even canceled some previously scheduled flights.
Dr. Anzaldua: If you are prone to or at risk for high altitude illness, try taking a day or two of rest prior to climbing to a higher altitude. Avoid strenuous physical activity, coffee and alcohol. Drink plenty of water any chance you get. If you have had high altitude illness in the past, consider taking prescription medication for prevention or treatment, such as Diamox. Consult with your healthcare provider.
Dr. Anzaldua: There are some studies that suggest that a disruption in our circadian rhythm (such as sleep deprivation and jet lag) can have a negative impact on our immune system. Such negative influence on our immunity system can make us vulnerable to certain illnesses, especially infections.
Dr. Anzaldua: While it is believed that temperature changes can impact our immune system and metabolic processes in our bodies, the mechanisms of how this happens is not well understood.
Dr. Anzaldua: Other than sleep deprivation and jet lag, a person’s general health is also a factor, especially those medical conditions that are associated with weakened immune systems. In addition, individuals not properly hydrated while flying are at risk of weakening the immune system. It is best to always stay well hydrated (even prior to air travel) and avoid caffeine and alcohol while flying. Remember that these beverages tend to dehydrate, not hydrate!
Dr. Anzaldua: Commercial jets are not always properly sanitized in between flights. Some of the areas at high risk for harboring infections include toilet areas, tray tables, armrests, and seat pockets. Believe it or not, tray tables (that may “look” clean) may actually harbor more germs than the restroom area! The best way to avoid contamination is to minimize hand contact with these areas just mentioned and to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer or a package of baby wipes to keep hands as germ-free as possible.
Dr. Anzaldua: Many hotels abroad realize that their traveling guests may get sick. For this reason, check with your hotel front desk to see if they can arrange for a physician to attend to you. In addition, you may wish to contact your own personal physician, but keep in mind that their assistance may be somewhat limited, but still may provide good medical advice such as recommending certain medications that may be available at a local pharmacy.