Medical Precautions Onboard
Good things to know when preparing for your flight: Medical Precautions Onboard
Medical Precautions Onboard
Flying onboard a commercial aircraft is an extremely safe way to travel, but it can impose a health risk for certain people. While in flight, the body has to deal with pressure changes and low pressure at high altitudes. The mind is put under stress due to the nature of flying, and with such close proximity to others, it is always possible to contract an illness. The aforementioned issues can affect anyone, though for people in high-risk groups, preparation is particularly important. Flying is advised against for certain conditions such as acute infection, chest pains, late stages of pregnancy and recent surgery.
The environment on a plane is in many ways different to regular human environments, and this makes it important to understand personal health, make all the necessary medical precautions and to understand what is available onboard the flight. This advice guide covers the most prominent health issues that travellers face whilst flying on board an aircraft, provides information on these issues and explains what preventative measures are available. Aside from medication or treatment, it is always good practice to have a plan and to stay organised when travelling by air. This is not only good to stay on time, but to remain calm and collected.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Sitting still in one place for long periods of time during the flight increases the risk of thrombo-embolism in the legs, especially for tall and obese people and those with a history of varicose veins and cardiovascular problems. While it is a fairly rare occurrence, it can be highly serious, and this is why it is important follow a number of procedures during long-haul flights. Keep hydrated, don’t wear tight socks, and walk around the cabin to exercise the calf muscles and get the blood flowing. There are special compression socks available for persons most at risk.
Communicable Infection and Disease
Aeroplanes are believed by many to be hotbeds of bacteria, with the close proximity and elevated stress levels making the spread of disease and infection easy. In reality, there is a very small risk of picking up anything on board a flight, and no more than the chance of contracting something when out and about. For those worried or at risk, the chances of catching something can always be reduced with immune booster pills, vitamin tablets, and by keeping the hands and surfaces clean with antibacterial gel. On flights to and from tropical and exotic locations, on landing, the aeroplane crew will spray a disinfectant into the cabin air to reduce the risk of passengers carrying unwanted germs and bugs into the terminal and home with them.
Available In-Flight Assistance
In dealing with medical problems while the plane is in flight, airlines have to conform to a number of safety regulations. According to these regulations, all cabin crew are trained in first aid and resuscitation, and there is also medical equipment on board that the crew are trained to use. These include first-aid kits, medical kits for emergencies and defibrillators for cases of cardiac arrest. It is recommended that for all travel that a personal first aid kit is taken to deal with general bruises, cuts and scrapes. Always remember that medical help is available on board. General first aid (plasters, disinfectant wipes) can be asked for during the flight. The cabin staff are not allowed to dispense propriety painkillers such as paracetamol, so it is best these are included in personal first aid kits or in hand luggage.
Anxiety and Fear
The nature of aircraft travel commonly causes psychological issues such as stress, and while these cases are usually mild, it can to be too much to ignore for many people. Those with significant anxiety problems or a phobia can receive medication from a physician prior to travel. For the worst cases, there are long term treatments available that include a mix of medication, therapy and advice. Many flyers use the effects of alcohol to try and calm the nerves, but this is not a recommended action for stress relief, and should never be mixed with prescription medication.
Flights typically reach tens of thousands of feet, and at this height the air pressure is much less that at sea level. Cabins are pressurised, but pressure changes still occur when the plane travels up and down. On the way down, pressure increase in the ear can cause problems when sinuses are already blocked due to infection. This can lead to a permanent problem which requires medical treatment. The removal of negative pressure inside the ear can be achieved by holding the nose and blowing out with the mouth closed as the flight descends.