Ticking off the weeks until your summer holiday?
You may anticipate a relaxing time away, but your body can react to the change in routine in negative as well as positive ways.
ANGELA EPSTEIN asks the experts to explain what happens – and to reveal their own holiday health essentials…
YOU’LL CATCH THE FIRST BUG GOING
EVEN if you haven’t taken sick leave in months, you may find yourself succumbing to a cold or infection as soon as you arrive on holiday.
Dutch researchers found that around one person in 30 becomes ill – with a variety of different complaints – as soon as they stop working and try to relax; a phenomenon sometimes called leisure sickness.
One theory is that while we are at work our body is constantly producing stress hormones such as adrenaline, which may help to ward off infection while we battle with the demands of our busy lives – this is our fight-or-flight response to stressful situations.
But the minute we start to relax, we catch any bugs that are around.
Dr Matthew Buckland, a consultant immunologist at Barts Health in London, explains: ‘Travel itself can be quite stressful. But once you’re on holiday there is a kind of overhang and the body finally gives into this build-up of stress, lowering immunity and making you more susceptible to any bugs or infections.’
And being in close proximity to people in a plane cabin won’t help. Colds are more than 100 times more likely to be transmitted on a plane than during normal daily life on the ground, according to the Journal of Environmental Health Research.
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