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Dr's and the what if's


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I have been told that I can not fly at all because the Dr doesn't think I will be safe flying- has anyone had trouble flying?... I get a lot of 'we arent sure' what if something happens...

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I haven't heard the "do not fly" from the specialists. What I have heard are a couple of things such as "stay hydrated - plenty of fluids" and info such as airplane cabins are pressured to the equivalent of 6500-ft. That's a little bit higher than Denver, CO, or around the height of the tallest peaks in the Appalachian chain such as Mt. Mitchell. If mountains don't particularly bother you, I don't see why airplane travel would. While this might address some of the physical aspects, if you're prone to being anxious, then perhaps someone else can give a tip in that regard. Happy travels!

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FYI, Before I was diagnosed with POTS (but I already was symptomatic), I did very poorly at the higher elevations in Reno and Lake Tahoe, NV and in the mountains of California, BUT, I did fine on the airplane rides home. Go figure?

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Flying is different for everyone and each time is a different experience. There are so many factors.

What are your normal symptoms and why do you think your doctor said that? Does your doctor have other patients like you or anything that qualifies him to tell you not to fly, I haven't ever heard that before.

Flying tends to exacerbate symptoms but can be somewhat curbed with preventative measures.

Know this, you should start a couple of days ahead of time by hydrating up with gatorade and water, sodium can be helpful. While in flight try to get up and move around and do things to make yourself more comfortable. If you are flying with a companion maybe you can lift the arm between you and put your feet up on his/her lap. When you make your flight reservations you can tell the airlines that you have POTS/NCS/Dysautonomia and that you need to elevate your legs. They usually put you in one of the more leg comfortable places (aka behind the bulk head.) Take snacks, water, gatorade with you on the plane as well as your meds. If you suffer from NCS or hypotension you can ask the airlines to provide you with a wheelchair. If you suffer anxiety your doctor might be able to give you something to relax you while you fly.

OK that's my 2 cents worth. ;)

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Emma,

So good to see you on the forum. I don't fly...mostly because I'm a big chicken, but I also worry about exacerbating symptoms. Some patients have told me it makes them feel worse, others feel fine. One of these days I am going to get up the nerve and get on a plane and find out which kind of patient am I. We have a little blurb on flying on the "what to avoid" page:

Travel by airplane is challenging for dysautonomics and may increase symptoms. Airplane cabins are pressurized to about 6,500 feet, which is high enough to cause some dysautonomia patients to hyperventilate. Hyperventilating makes a patient more likely to get symptoms of sympathetic activation (Robertson, 2002).

Those with POTS do need to know that the air in an airplane is some of the driest in the world. Flying can have dehydrating effects in normal individuals. How much more so flying might dehydrate someone with low blood volume. Everyone should be well hydrated before boarding a plane. Also, normal people sometimes have trouble with blood pooling in their legs during flights. Rarely, this can lead to the development of blood clots. Patients prone to pooling blood may want to wear compression stockings when flying. Patients may also want to request a bulkhead seat, as this will give them more room to elevate their legs.

See the specific page for references.

Michelle

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Hi,

I'll preface my remarks with the statement that everyone is different, one should check with and respect the opinion of their doctors--in this case, with regard to flying.

I have been diagnosed with POTS since 1994. I have flown a multitude of times since then--most international flights of significant duration.

I wear compression hose, sit on the aisle so I can easily get up and walk around, stay hydrated, never drink alcohol, try to sleep on the plane and when I get to my international destination, take my medication, and try not to sit near someone who is coughing and sniffling. I try to elevate my legs--not always possible. I don't find the bulkhead seats that much better.

I wish you luck in your plight with flying!

Lois <_<

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I think you've gotten some very good answers here, and great advice. I just wanted to add that I have flown on 4 trips (total of 8 flights) since I was diagnosed and have not once had a problem. I've actually found flying to be very pleasant since it doesn't exacerbate the symptoms as long as I stay hydrated. The walk through the airport can be tough, and the lines, but last time I flew I was able to get in the front of the line and had no trouble (and I was alone with my one year old- arrgghh!!). The only way to know for sure is to take all preventative measures and try it out. If you are planning a trip, good luck!

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I don't have much to add except that, although I don't know your specific case, I have never heard of a doctor advising a POTS patient not to fly. My POTS specialist has never told me not to try any activity. However, as others have already said, you do want to make sure you stay hydrated, etc. I have not flown since being diagnosed, but will fly in about a week an a half on two short flights. Like ethansmom, I am more worried about standing on long lines with my toddler in tow, than the sitting on the plane part of the journey.

Even prior to diagnosis, I have to say I always felt "odd" after flying--a bit shaky, a little dizzy and super thirsty. I also do horribly at high elevations, although I can adjust, it just takes me longer than most people.

Personally, I would question your doctor's advice. That restriction is certainly limiting and there may be no need for it, especially long-term.

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I agree w/everyone else who's posted...I've flown a few times since my diagnosis w/POTS (and regularly--all my life--before my diagnosis) ... I now do a little better, I guess, because I follow the advice that's given in the above posts when I fly. I wonder whether you have some other medical condition--other than POTS--that the doctor would be concerned about. Do you?

merrill

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I've had POTS all my life--and I've flown many times. It does take a lot out of me and I need to plan for rest time for the day of and after travel.

There are quite a number of people who have much more trouble than I do with flying...like folks said above, it's an individual thing.

Michelle, thanks for posting the info. --Nina

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It sounds like with precautions and planning, flying is OK for folks with pots. At least it is for this small sample of people. I wonder whether anyone's heard of someone with pots becoming so sick with flying, though, that it was considered "unsafe" -- whether the resulting illness outweighed the benefits, say, of getting somewhere in 2 hours by plane rather than in 12 hours by car... or whether something happened to a pots person during flight that was somehow dangerous. (Is that what Emma was asking?)

And may I say as a footnote how sad insomnia is? I'm typing at 4 am central, because some idiot decided to try to fix his car at 2 am a few doors down and across the street... <_< I've been tossing since then, and thought I'd say hi to everyone in cyberspace. Off topic, I realize. Sorry!

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Well, Merrill, here we go. 4 years ago my hubbie decided we needed to take a trip to Seattle for a belated honeymoon. Hubbie was in a plane crash 14 years ago and sustained a head injury but he's highly functional and a really sweet guy. So anyway; his sister is a flight attendant on America West and we could get buddy passes for this vacation. Off we go, flying standby of course.

The plane wasn't even 25% full, I asked the flight attendant if I couldn't be reassigned to a row where there were 3 of us crammed into the same row and she was very sharp with me and told me no. It was a miserable experience. I did manage an aisle seat so I could get up and walk but I arrived at both ends of the trip horribly swollen, even with support stockings. The flights were about 8 hours each way, there was a 3-4 hour layover between Phoenix and Seattle so I at least got to walk around a bit in the terminal and found a place where I could sit and really elevate my legs.

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