The holiday season can be stressful, with overcrowded stores, unexpected budget hits, and hectic travel situations.
According to the AAA, an estimated 115 million people will travel by plane, train, or automobile this holiday season, a 2.2 percent increase from last year.
While anxious travelers flock to gas stations and flight gates, they will surely bring germs along for the ride.
Couple this with unsavory weather conditions, and you have the perfect breeding ground for a cold, flu, or even worse.
To help you protect yourself and your loved ones from the unwanted gift of sickness this year, we spoke with BENADRYL’s Family Physician, Dr. Leslie Gonzalez. Dr. Gonzalez shared tips on staying healthy while you’re on the move.
InClub: What preventative measures can people take during this season while traveling to keep germs at bay?
Dr. Leslie Gonzalez: First and foremost, wash your hands regularly and carry hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes for on-the-go hand hygiene. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent germs from entering your system. It also helps to disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently, such as your cell phone or computer keyboard. Of course, try to avoid coming in close contact with people who are sick, but if that is impossible, I recommend wearing a mask.
Other preventative measures include:
- Upping your vitamin D intake.
- Getting at least 8 hours of sleep nightly.
- Exercising regularly and drinking enough water.
What precautions should parents take for children during the cold months and while traveling?
Ensure they wash their hands often and are dressed appropriately according to the weather. Also, clean their toys and surfaces in the house.
New strands of everything from the common cold to RSV and COVID-19 pop up daily. What are some early symptoms people should look for to decipher the type of care that is needed?
Early symptoms that can decipher the type of care people need are changes in taste and/or smell, red swollen eyes, and skin rashes. These symptoms are seen in a COVID-19 infection and are not commonly seen during a cold. Fevers, chills, fatigue, cough, sore throat, and body aches can be seen in a cold and COVID-19. I highly suggest you speak with your healthcare provider for help.
People also find it hard to decipher the difference between colds and allergies, and navigating how to treat them can sometimes feel overwhelming. I like to remind patients that allergy symptoms usually flare up when they come in contact with allergens they are most sensitive to and to make sure to pay attention when they experience symptoms like itchy eyes, nose, or throat so that they can identify the allergens that bother them most.
Also, typically, with a cold, people experience a wet cough and potentially run a fever. Allergies don’t cause fevers, so that’s the main difference to look for!
Although masks are no longer mandatory, do you recommend people wear them while traveling or in large groups?
Yes! Masks serve as a protective barrier not only for you but for others as well. If wearing a mask is not an option, try to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from individuals outside your household.
What do you suggest as a first line of defense post-travel?
To prevent getting sick post-travel, try to get back into a healthy daily routine – this includes staying hydrated throughout the day, eating a balanced diet filled with antioxidants, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep. It’s also essential to give yourself time to recover from travel and any jet lag you may be experiencing. And try to give yourself a day or two to rest between getting home and returning to work. When you return from a trip, try to do laundry as soon as possible and wipe down other items with high-touch surfaces so you leave any travel germs at the door.
What products should be a staple in a person’s medicine cabinet or carry-on?
BENADRYL® products are known to provide powerful relief from allergies, but many people don’t realize that they are also effective at treating runny noses and sneezing from the common cold. BENADRYL® Allergy ULTRATABS® and BENADRYL® Allergy Dye-Free LIQUI-GELS® for Adults contain the ingredient diphenhydramine, which relieves a runny nose or sneezing, whether from allergies or the common cold.
And if your child has allergies, BENADRYL® offers both a liquid form and Chewables, which provides kids with effective relief from hay fever and allergy symptoms.
In addition, if traveling somewhere warm this holiday season, BENADRYL® Topical products treat sunburn and outdoor itches from bug bites. The BENADRYL® Extra Strength Itch Stopping Cream comes in a 1oz TSA-approved size for travel.