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How Does Flying Affect You?


bkweavers
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We've finally decided to take a family trip and we need to fly to get there. My daughter who has POTS has improved tremendously this past year. She went from spending her days horizontal to being upright and now is almost able to walk on her own. Many of her symptoms are gone. I'm just concerned about the flying affecting her. I know other people on here have flown and wondering what your experience was with it.

Brenda

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Hi Brenda,

I know many people here have written about it making them feel horrible. I am lucky in that I can handle it, it just wears me out a bit - especially with luggage and walking through the airports (sounds like your daughter may benefit from a wheelchair there). If i leave recovery time after the flight and dont try to do much afterwards i'm ok. The worst thing that happened was before i was diagnosed and was living overseas... I was doing a lot of long-haul flights back to the US from Europe and used to get bad chest pains. I kept thinking "you're only 28- you cant be having a heart attack!" it was mostly pressure in my chest and shortness of breath, but if I focused on my breathing and put soft music on my headphones I wouldn't panic. Having said all that - the last few flights I've taken domestically have been fine with the exception of some shortness of breath. Plus, now knowing it's POTS, and having that understanding diminishes the disconcerting nature of any symptoms.

Good luck with your flight! It sounds like you're overdo for a nice break :-)

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Hi Brenda,

Good for you and your family vacation! have a great time! I can only say for me I tolerate short flights much better. Under 3 hours. I will get tired but not sick. Like dizzy said, international flying is harder. I struggle with those big time. But, if you have a few hour trip, she should hopefully be ok. But that is just my own experience. I hope she does well, and I hope you have a great time! Glad she is doing better :)

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I just remembered 1 other thing. I always travel with the little sachets of G2 powder so I can dump one in bottled water I buy after security in the airport... Gotta stay hydrated on the flight!! And of course aisle seats are helpful if that makes you have to pee every 5 mins :)

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Guest tearose

Planning will help. Carry electrolyte packets because you can't take liquid with you. Wearing compression is a must. Be prepared for take off and landing and the time it takes for the cabin to pressurize to be the most challenging. I trigger SVT during these transitions and wind up having to bring my legs up to the seat and my knees to my chin. Walking around a little when you are at cruising altitude will help to keep the circulation going well. It also gets very cold in flight so have layers to put on and take off.

Have a good trip!

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I don't think it affects me much and is definitely worth it for a holiday. I have flown long and short haul and even to NZ a couple of years ago and was fine.

I get travel sick which I think is fairly common in people with POTS. For me, air travel (provided I keep looking straight ahead and don't read) is probably the best form of transport in terms of minimising nausea. I tend not to eat a great deal when travelling and maybe that helps because post-prandial hypotension is a big POTS trigger for me.

The obvious drawback with flying, unless you have lots of money, is lack of leg room. I don't really like being still for that long in a relatively upright position. However, it is no different to most cars, trains and coaches and at least with flying you cover a big distance in a short time! I try to book seats with extra leg room and on-line check-in makes it easier to do this.

It is good to hear your daughter's symptoms have improved. I hope you have a lovely holiday.

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Guest letitbe

Planning-what an idesa1 truly. i was so sick last time I flew, I didn't think of any of what you all are suggesting so thanks from me as well.

But my worst exp's with it are when I get off in the terminal. Everything is breathing,(perception changes) confused, feel lost a tad frightened and audio is really echo-ey.

that is from the pressure and of course, standing to get off then going into those bright lights and activity. plan well for de-planing as well. Get to a chair as soon as you can and breathe real deep and slow.

I want to learn the REAL BREATHING. The true 5000 year old practice. Time for a thread about it.

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Having flown several times with POTS, I can simply add to the rest the importance of planning, and hydration. I get IV saline through a port/cath several times a week to deal with my hypotension. If I have to travel (even by car) I do an extra liter of fluids before and after the flight. Try to get bulkhead (front row) seats, gives a little more legroom, and doing some simple calf stretching exercises can help. Compression stockings can be a big help as well. Be sure to use extra caution getting up from the seat when the flight is over. Just take it slow and it should go okay. Don't plan on doing more than getting to your hotel/lodging on the travel day, and expect your daughter to need some time to bounce back once you return home. I find that I often do okay on trips, because sheer excitement can keep me going. But I tend to collapse for several days, sometimes weeks, when I get home. But I am 35, not a teen, so hopefully she will bounce back sooner!

Sandy

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Flying is pretty rough for me, I have learned that hydration is the most important thing!

I drink as much water as humanly possible for a few days before I fly, and I continue throughout my entire trip. It is a bit annoying because I have to go to the bathroom constantly (to the point that it is always a joke when we travel), but I have found that if I hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, I feel a lot better than if I don't. That being said, even with all of that water, I still do not feel anywhere near good when I fly. I always drink a ton before we get to the airport, and then once we go through security I usually chug at least 2 bottles of water... I seem to feel alright during take off and through out most of the flight, but generally once we are starting to descend a little I start to feel awful. I always have my BP/HR monitor with me, and my pressure drops big time, of course then I get all of the fun symptoms that come with that, dizzy ,lightheaded, nausea etc., and as soon as we land (and I wish I knew why!), I all the sudden feel like I am going to vomit immediately. Luckily I usually get off the plane quickly enough that I am ok and don't throw up but once I step off that plane I feel like I have been at battle for a few days. My body is completely exhausted and run down. I usually need to sleep the remainder of the day after arriving somewhere, and for 1-2 days after that it is pretty hit or miss, I can be ok, or I can have a major POTS episode and not be able to get out of bed. Also make sure to have pretzels or your salty snack of choice with you, if I start to feel really bad I suck on pretzels to get the salt in my body.

I try to pad my timing on my trips, meaning...I try my best to have 1-3 days where if I feel like **** and need to sleep and rest and do nothing my plans are flexible enough that I am able to do that. I also do the same thing when I get home, I try to have a minimum of 1 day when I get back to recover from travel The few times that I haven't given myself at least a day I have ended up in bed for a week because of it.

I guess the good and bad thing with this disease is that it seems to effect each one of us so differently, the last time I flew when we got to the airport for our flight home I was already not feeling well, and my bf and I discussed getting a wheel chair. I was being stubborn and decided I would be fine, well we got to the security line which was extremely long and I ended up needing to sit and shuffle up the line the whole time. I came very close to fainting at least 5 times while waiting for security and got really sick. SO, if your daughter is not feeling well, as much as I am sure she will not want to use a wheelchair, it is a HUGE help! I made myself a whole lot sicker than I needed to be and learned my lesson for next time.

The longest flight I have taken since getting ill is 6 hours, we have discussed possibly going to Europe but I am so afraid that the longer the flight the longer my down time will be when we arrive. I guess if we decided to do it, I will have to figure in 3 days when we arrive to do nothing and rest and then 3 days once we get home...

One last thing, it is really important that she remembers to stand up every so often or at least pumps her ankles while she is sitting to prevent all the blood from pooling in her legs! Good luck!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions and comments. I'll remember all of them. We do have to fly only 2 hours so that should help. I'm going to really try and get her to use a wheelchair. Now that's she's almost 15, she doesn't like to listen to her mother as much but I want her to conserve her energy for the week.

Thanks again everyone!

Brenda

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  • 7 months later...

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