The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Learning to live with a debilitating condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can often mean a significant number of lifestyle modifications. Sufferers of chronic lung diseases often have difficulty undertaking simple daily tasks let alone some of their favorite but more intensive hobbies. For some sufferers, every breath is a struggle. This problem occurs when an individual with a chronic lung disease tries to do too much, which can trigger a flare-up. These issues become especially evident with hobbies like air travel with lung disease.
Traveling is a favorite hobby for a lot of people, but unfortunately, as a more intensive and difficult hobby, it can be extra challenging for individuals with chronic lung disease. In the modern era, traveling long-distance is has almost become synonymous with flying. As a result of the typical traditional treatment for chronic lung disease, supplemental oxygen, air travel can become exceedingly difficult due to TSA regulations. However, for those dedicated to exploring the world, with a little extra planning and some flexibility, air travel is possible despite your condition. If you are planning a trip in the upcoming months, here are a few tips to make your travel experience a little easier.
Tips for Air Travel with Lung Disease
- Chat with your doctor. The first and most important thing to do before any trip, whether you’re flying or not, is to speak with your doctor. Not only will this prepare your doctor in case of an emergency, but she or he will also be able to assure you that your current condition allows for travel of any type.
- Choose a direct flight. Choosing a direct flight will cause you to only have to go through the navigating an airport and boarding process once. Depending on your destination, this may not be possible. In those situations, try to find layovers in smaller airports as to limit the amount of walking needed between flights. If that is still not possible, be sure to choose flights that have longer layover that allows more time for you to navigate the airport before boarding your second or third flight.
- Get there early! One of the easiest ways to cause a flare-up is through the additional stress of rushing and feeling late. Arriving to the airport early can help you avoid this undue stress.
- Prepare the day before. Most airlines now require that you check-in ahead of time. At the same time, you’re also able to print your boarding pass early. Doing these things the day before will eliminate your need to the visit the check-in desk unless you’re dropping off luggage.
- Remember security. Far too many people choose to wear their Sunday best and all of their accessories when they decide to fly. This often results in a long time spent going through the TSA checkpoint—not to mention additional stress worrying that you’re going to miss your flight. By keeping your clothing simple, your shoes easy to get on and off, and by minimizing your accessories, you are able to breeze through security and get right to your gate.
- Consider your oxygen. If supplemental oxygen is part of your treatment regimen, be sure to call the airline at least a month before your trip. Chances are you will need medical documentation for the oxygen. Be sure to bring a FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrator that has a charge that will last at least 150% of the predicted flight time.
- Visit the Lung Institute. The easiest way to make flying easier is by simply breathing easier. Traditional treatments for chronic lung diseases do not offer the luxury of actually improving your condition. In most cases, the treatments only serve to manage the symptoms. With new medical advancements like stem cell therapy for pulmonary conditions, suffers are finally able to start getting back to the hobbies they love. As it stands, stem cell therapy may be the difference between the vacation of your life and an unnecessary flare-up.