Are you healthy enough to fly?

You are about to fly overseas but are a bit concerned about your current state of health. Should you still travel?

The American Medical Association has listed some contraindications to commercial air travel:

Cardiovascular problems:

  • Recent deep vein thrombosis (within four weeks).
     
  • Recent heart attack (within six weeks).
     
  • Recent stroke (within two weeks).
     
  • Severe high blood pressure.
     
  • Recent thoracic surgery (within three weeks).
     
  • Unstable heart disease.

Lung problems:

  • Pneumothorax (air between the lung and the chest wall).
     
  • Pulmonary cysts.
     
  • Acute bronchospasm (like in an acute asthma attack).
     
  • Cyanosis (too little oxygen in the blood).
     
  • Severe shortness of breath at rest.
     
  • Pulmonary hypertension.
     
  • Pneumonia.
     
  • Unstable lung function disorders.

Eye, ear, nose and throat problems:

  • Recent eye surgery.
     
  • Recent middle ear surgery.
     
  • Acute sinusitis.
     
  • Acute middle ear infection (grommets are not an contraindication).
     
  • Permanent wiring of the jaw.

Gastrointestinal tract problems:

  • Recent abdominal surgery (within two weeks).
     
  • Acute diverticulitis or ulcerative colitis.
     
  • Acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea).
     
  • Acute oesophageal varices.

Neuropsychiatric problems:

  • Uncontrolled epilepsy.
     
  • Previous violent or unpredictable behaviour.
     
  • Recent scull fracture.
     
  • Brain tumour.

Blood problems:

  • Severe anaemia (Hb 8.5g/dl in an adult).
     
  • Sickle cell disease.
     
  • Leukaemia with active bleeding.
     
  • Haemophilia with active bleeding.

Pregnancy

  • The last month of pregnancy.
     
  • Threatening miscarriage.

Miscellaneous
Any disease that needs constant administration of intravenous fluids/medication or other special medical apparatus will be excluded from commercial air travel, as the airline doesn't have these available. Consultation with the airline beforehand can sometimes overcome this problem.

There you have it. If you don't suffer from these problems, it's probably safe to fly. - (Dr Bram van Niekerk)

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