May 15, 2006 Table of Contents

Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Health Tips for Air Travel

Am Fam Physician. 2006 May 15;73(10):1807.

How can I be more comfortable during plane travel?

Several things can make traveling by plane more comfortable. The air in airplanes is dry. You should drink plenty of nonalcoholic drinks so you won't get dehydrated.

Sitting still for many hours on long flights can cause blood clots in your legs. It is a good idea to walk every now and then during your flight (unless the flight crew tells you not to). While you are sitting, it may help to move your legs and stretch the muscles in your lower legs. Wearing support stockings also helps some people.

What can I do to stop my ears from hurting?

If your ears hurt when you fly, try swallowing often during the flight. Some people find that it helps to chew gum. For babies, sucking on a bottle or a pacifier may help. You also could take a decongestant medicine before you get on the plane.

What about taking my medicines?

Be sure to put enough of all of your medicines in your carry-on luggage. If your eating and sleeping times will change on your trip, ask your doctor if you should change your dosages. Bring enough medicine to last your whole trip. Take extra medicine with you in case your return trip is delayed.

What else should I do?

If you have diabetes, allergies, or epilepsy, you should carry an identification card. Have the name and phone number of your doctor with you in case of an emergency. Also, remember to bring the names and dosages of all of your medicines.

If your doctor wants you to take oxygen when you travel, remember to tell the airline before your flight. The airline can give you oxygen, but you may have to pay for it. By law, you cannot carry your own oxygen unit on a plane. You will need to make arrangements ahead of time for oxygen at your destination and for layovers between flights.

You also could arrange with the airline for special meals or a wheelchair ahead of time, if needed.

Is it dangerous to fly after scuba diving?

It is very dangerous to fly just after scuba diving. You should not scuba dive for 12 to 24 hours before your flight. Ask your doctor for more information.


This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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