Germs on a Plane: Study reveals tips to avoid sickness in the skies

VIDEO: Study reveals tips to avoid germs during air travel

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - You might be up to 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than in your normal day-to-day life, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research.

With an estimated 24 million people expected to be in an airport in December alone, airplanes are the germiest places to be. Seat pockets, tray tables, bathrooms and magazines are places that are easily accessible and are crawling with thousands of harmful bacteria, experts say.

The germiest place on an airplane: the bathroom, considered a breeding ground for bacteria like Escherichia coli, more commonly abbreviated as E. coli.

Health professionals say it's better to avoid touching anything directly. They suggest using a paper towel to grab the knob and get in and out as well as opening the toilet lid.

While seat pockets may seem like a convenient place to store snacks and drinks, some passengers like to use seat pockets like a trash bin. Stow things in your carry-on bag, instead, doctors say.

And skip reading that magazine tucked away in a seat pocket. The only time they are cleaned is when a new publication is released, the study found, so bring your own book or magazine instead.

And always have hand sanitizer ready.

Also try to not use the fold-down tray tables on planes. An investigation uncovered those to have high levels of bacteria and germs.

Flight attendants have reported seeing everything from passengers changing dirty diapers to using them to hide chewing gum.

Copyright 2014 WCSC. All rights reserved.