Flying to Paris? Pack your Neti Pot and Face Mask


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My doctor said recently she doesn’t go on vacation without her face mask handy for long flights. She is a very cool doctor – and she would still look very cool even with a face mask. A translatlantic flight from New York to Paris will give you a minimum of six to seven hours to swap germs through the recycled air system so here are some things you can do to protect yourself from picking up a cold enroute:

Face mask. Gauze face masks may look weird – it’s definitely not a fashion statement, but for most of the flight you’re going to be staring at another person’s headrest.

If you haven’t yet heard of neti pots, these are saline solution irrigation kits that come in handy for clearing out your sinuses. I have to admit I don’t watch Opra Winfrey and I missed the Jan 8th article printed in IHT,
but French doctors have been prescribing saline sprays for colds for years. (I just never knew that the salt was the key ingredient for curing sinus headaches as well). Most of the saline treatments suggest using non-iodized salt.

This morning I used a much simpler saline treatment for a sore throat and cold: Gargle with warm salted tap water (I poured in about 1/4 cup of salt. Cup your hands and splash some of the salted water around the nose at the same time. You don’t have to actually pour the water into your passages – you can just exhale repeatedly.

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Just a P.S. here regarding the IHT Neti pot story – I love the quote from a doctor who explains the reason why saline irrigation isn’t prescribed more often: “Studies indicate that saline nasal irrigation is a highly effective, minimally invasive intervention for people suffering from nasal issues,” Dr. Marple said. “But it’s just not as sexy to talk about. People want to hear about surgery or antibiotics.”

And just what is so sexy about surgery and antibiotics?
I’ve read that some flight passengers put a dab of triple antibiotic ointment around the nostrils. Now isn’t that just so sexy?

Re: Jet Lag
Melatonin appears to be useful to a number of fliers. I’ve used it in the past – but usually forget to start taking it a few days before the flight which is suggested. You should be aware though that melatonin is actually an illegal substance in France. Don’t ask me why – it just is. Not that you would be thrown in jail for popping a melatonin capsule, but don’t expect to find it at the pharmacy – pretty amusing when you can, on the other hand, easily purchase codeine enhanced cough syrups with no prescription.

Another article suggested inhaling a pleasant perfume before you go to bed each night (for about a week before you leave on your trip). Then when you arrive in Paris, do the same thing. I’ve never tried this jet lag remedy because I’m always too busy packing or procrastinating about packing to remember to do anything so aesthetic.

It can take you an entire week to recover from jet lag – which when you’re flying from west to east will cause you to be an insomniac and then wake up around noon for the first few days. Obviously, not everyone responds to jet lag in the same way. Some say that you should fight the urge to go to sleep on the first day and stay up during daylight hours. I disagree with this. Sleep when you feel like sleeping. The body is always right. Paris is an all day all night city. Take a long walk whenever you do wake up and enjoy Paris by night. If you miss the normal lunch hour (12:30 to 2 pm), stop into a salon du thé for a light snack that will hold you over until dinner at 8 or 9 pm.