Your upcoming trip should be a smooth and enjoyable experience, but unexpected medical emergencies can arise anytime.
Here are just a few examples from recent news stories of travel medical emergencies:
Stories like this are every traveler’s worst nightmare, but medical emergencies occur anywhere and without warning. With so many people traveling, more than ever since the pandemic, how do you keep a medical emergency from ruining your next flight?
In this article, I’ll share essential tips and precautions to help you prevent and handle inflight medical emergencies.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s not to ignore mild symptoms like a stuffy nose, itchy throat, or shortness of breath. It’s not just about your health, it’s about the health of others around you.
Still, flying while you’re sick can make your symptoms worse:
It’s a challenge for every traveler to stay hydrated while flying, and when you’re sick, dehydration can lead to lightheadedness, nausea, and dizzy spells.
Flying when you’re sick can be more risky than you think!
Flight attendants are trained in basic first aid, CPR, and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). They have medical kits with basic supplies and strategies for handling urgent-care situations.
Those medical kits are bare-bones, and the equipment isn’t state-of-the-art. Calling for medical help in-flight is not the same as having a paramedic with all the latest and greatest supplies, for example.
Doctors and medical organizations have been urging the FAA to require aircraft to carry EpiPens, for example. One doctor, who assisted with a medical emergency on a Delta flight in June 2022, tweeted:
Key takeaway: Flights crews are prepared, but you can’t count on the airlines to have everything you might need for an in-flight medical emergency.
Depending on how healthy you are, where you’re headed, and what activities you’ll be doing when you travel, you have to pay attention to the risks.
Common summer travel emergencies include heat stroke, sunburns, insect-born viruses (malaria, dengue, and zika), and head injuries from motorized and non-motorized vehicle crashes. Some new threats have appeared lately, including tick-borne encephalitis in forested areas of Europe, which can be prevented with a vaccine.
Don’t just show up and hop on the flight; think about the potential health risks you could face.
When it comes to avoiding an in-flight medical emergency, you are the best advocate for yourself and your family. Have your own first-aid kit with the basics for everything from headaches to dehydration to cuts.
See What’s in Your Travel Medical Kit for a list of items to include.
When it comes to avoiding an in-flight medical emergency, you can do a lot while in flight to take charge of your health.
See Pain-free flights: how to avoid aches and pains on long flights for useful inflight strategies.