If you’ve experienced a collapsed lung, most likely your physician will want you to wait from one to three weeks before flying. That’s because the risk of a collapsed lung worsening increases if you are under the pressure of an airplane cabin at high altitudes.
That doesn’t mean you can never fly with a collapsed lung, however. Once a doctor has determined that enough time has passed, they will give you the green light to fly. At that point, many people feel more comfortable traveling with a medical professional such as a flight nurse who can both provide care and serve as a strong patient advocate.
As with other medical conditions, including a broken bone or head trauma, a flight nurse can provide the care you need and offer peace of mind during your flight.
What Is Pneumothorax?
The technical term for a collapsed lung is pneumothorax. It’s caused when air leaks into the space between the chest wall and the lung, pushing on the outside of the lung and making it collapse. Pneumothorax can involve a partial or a complete lung collapse.
A wide variety of issues can lead to pneumothorax. They include a blunt or penetrating chest injury or damage from underlying lung disease. Some medical procedures may also lead to a collapsed lung.
Symptoms can include sudden chest pain and shortness of breath. In some cases, a collapsed lung can be a life-threatening event.
Treatment for a Collapsed Lung
In most cases, a collapsed lung is likely to keep you grounded for a time, at least a few weeks. Treatment for pneumothorax can differ depending on the size of the pocket of air outside the lungs and the severity of the issue.
With a smaller pneumothorax, the situation sometimes gets better on its own. A doctor may treat a patient by giving them oxygen, waiting and observing the patient, then conducting a chest x-ray to see the extent of the problem.
A large pneumothorax that causes severe pain and breathing problems will typically require immediately removing the pocket of air, usually by inserting a chest tube through a small incision between the ribs. Air escapes from the tube. This requires hospitalization for as long as the tube stays in your chest.
When to Fly With a Collapsed Lung
As with other medical conditions, it is critical to get checked with a physician before deciding to fly with a collapsed lung. They can determine if the lung has healed sufficiently to allow you to fly. That’s because the pressure at high altitudes can cause the lung to collapse again if you have not sufficiently healed.
According to research published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, air travel “is generally safe 2–3 weeks after successful drainage of [pneumothorax].” They added that current guidelines from the Orlando Regional Medical Center and the British Thoracic Society recommend delaying air travel for at least 14 days.
When you do decide to fly, it is helpful to travel with someone with the experience to manage medical care and handle any situation that might arise during your flight. Partnering with a flight nurse from a non-emergency medical transport company provides assurance to both the patient and their family that they will arrive safely at their destination.
Every person with a disability has protected rights to travel in the United States and much of the Western world, including popular destinations in Europe. They can make their journey more enjoyable by taking steps to simplify special needs air travel and follow proven disabled travel tips.
The following offers some of those tips for disabled travelers that can help manage common issues that arise during air travel. In some cases, those with mobility issues or senior travelers benefit from traveling with a flight nurse who provides professional medical care during the flight (as well as handling all the travel arrangements).
Tips for Disabled Travelers
While it’s impossible to anticipate the needs of every traveler, the following tips cover some of the most common issues faced by disabled travelers.
Consult With Your Physician
Before starting the process of planning and booking a trip, it’s important to consult with your physician. They can let you know whether you are healthy enough to make a long journey, and also provide tips of their own to address any special needs you have.
Keep Medication With You
One of the most important issues to manage – and one that can simply special needs air travel – is having a plan for carrying medicine. The first issue is to ensure you take enough medication for the entire trip, as well as get information on where you can get refills in case you lose any medication. Another important tip is to take all medications needed for the trip in a carry-on bag so you always have it with you.
Know Your Rights
As mentioned above, disabled travelers are protected by law when they travel. The U.S. government has put together an Airline Passengers With Disabilities Bill of Rights that covers the fundamental rights of air travelers under the Air Carrier Access Act. The European Union also provides information on the rights for travelers with disabilities or mobility issues. Knowing these rights can simplify special needs air travel because you will go into your journey knowing the details of how you are protected under law.
Planning is important for all travelers, but especially those with disabilities or mobility issues. That includes ensuring that all accommodations for your trip – hotels, cruise ships, tours – are compliant with laws governing access to those with disabilities. That’s not an issue in the United States, but you want to double check any foreign destinations. There’s a long list of issues to consider when planning for a trip, including choosing the right clothes, managing medications, dealing with security (especially if you have a wheelchair or medical equipment), arranging to get the most convenient seats during your flight, and transportation to and from airports, hotels and other destinations. These are areas where an RN Flight Coordinator can manage the arrangements.
Consider Getting Medical Insurance
When people think about insuring themselves for a trip, they typically are considering travel insurance that covers them for financial losses, such as if they lose baggage. However, medical insurance is a separate issue. It’s an option to consider if you want to protect yourself in case of accidents, injuries or a medical issue arising during your trip.
Provide Advance Notice to Airline
Some airlines require that travelers with special needs provide 48 hours of advance notice if they require certain types of services, equipment or accommodations. These range from hooking up respirators to the aircraft electrical power to needing a special onboard wheelchair. You may also request boarding first. It’s helpful to contact the airport or the TSA about any special considerations needed for getting through security.
Arrive Early, Check Information
Passengers with mobility issues should arrive at the airport as early as possible (an hour before the recommended arrival time, if possible) to allow the time needed to check baggage, go through security and reach the gate on time for boarding. Check all flight information before leaving home, and also once you arrive at the airport, just to ensure there has not been a change in flight time or the departing gate.
These tips can simplify special needs air travel and make your flight more enjoyable. By planning ahead and getting professional help if needed, those with disabilities and mobility issues can travel safely.
Seniors shouldn’t have to slow down just because they are older, even if they have mobility issues. Many older travelers have reached a time in life where they have both the time and money to travel. Nothing should stop them from realizing their travel dreams.
To make it easier, it’s important to know some travel hacks for seniors. They can help make the journey more enjoyable, whether they are traveling to Europe, visiting family or going through a relocation.
Travel Hacks for Seniors
These tips for older travelers apply to both domestic and foreign travel. They range from smart steps to maintaining all your medication to choosing glasses over contacts. Whether minor or major, these travel hacks for seniors are designed to do one thing: make your flight more enjoyable.
Doctors and Medications
If you’re a senior, especially if you have mobility issues or underwent a recent surgery, it’s important to visit your physician before booking a trip so they can clear you for travel. Another issue to plan for once you’re cleared is managing medications – you don’t want to miss taking them while traveling. Pack all medications in easy-to-manage carry-on bags (such as a backpack), so you always have them near you.
People sometimes make life harder on themselves, including older travelers, by having a bulky or hard-to-manage carry-on bag. In the weeks leading up to the trip, make sure you have a carry-on bag that you are comfortable with and that is easy to carry. For many people, the best answer is a lightweight backpack.
Call Ahead to Airline
It’s a smart move to call the airlines at least 48 hours in advance if you think you will need any of the following special considerations. They can either put you on a list or tell you how to manage the issue once you arrive at the airport.
Use of medical equipment on the airplane
A wheelchair to get through airport (they can arrange someone to meet you when you arrive)
A special wheelchair for use on the airplane
Contact The TSA
You also can contact the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) to find out how to get wheelchairs and medical equipment through security, as well as information on any other special considerations a senior traveler may want (such as getting through security faster). If you don’t call ahead, you can ask a TSA agent at the airport before you get into the security lines.
Arrange your travel well ahead of time to get as many non-stop flights as possible, eliminating multiple boardings and deboarding during your trip. This is one of the areas where a RN flight coordinator can provide a great deal of support.
Security Line Strategy
If you want to get through security without as much hectic removing and replacing items in your pants or coat pocket, take out important items (such as keys, wallet, and smartphone) and place them in your backpack or carry-on bag.
Take Pictures of Important Items
Take pictures of your passport, vaccination records, travel itinerary, important phone numbers and other documents and information so you can quickly show a copy or find a number if needed. You can also make photocopies and keep it in your carry-on bag in case you lose power on your phone.
Dehydration while flying is an issue for everyone, but it can especially impact older travelers. It’s smart to hydrate before a flight and bring water to have handy while on the plane (just in case they don’t serve beverages on your flight). Make sure to make a “pit stop” in the bathroom before boarding.
One of the good things about growing older is that you know your own body, including how long your bladder will hold out before it’s time to find a bathroom. One simple but smart travel hack for seniors is to pick a seat on the plane (or arrange to get it ahead of time with the airline) that will fit your anticipated need to get up and go to the bathroom. That typically means a seat as close to one of the bathrooms as possible, as well as an aisle seat that makes it easier to make the trip to the bathroom. Obviously, this is a bigger issue on longer flights, but some seniors know they will need an easy path to the bathroom at least once even on a 90-minute flight.
Another bathroom-related travel hack for seniors: avoid trying to go to the bathroom after food and beverages are served. This is the most popular time for people to go. The best time is after the plane has taken off and reached the height where it levels off and food service is still 10 to 15 minutes away.
The dry air during the flight can cause your eyes to dry out, possibly leading to your contacts irritating your eyes. If you have the option, wear glasses instead of contacts during the flight.
Of course, the most important travel hack for seniors is to enjoy yourself! By planning ahead and putting these tips into action, you can take the anxiety out of travel and spend more time relaxing.
For a variety of reasons, people often seek a long distance transportation service. Thanks to the expansion of those services in recent years, people can find the transportation that fits their needs, ranging from car services for those who do not want to drive themselves to medical services for those who need assistance during their travels.
What you need depends on the reason for hiring the service. The phrase long distance transport actually encompasses three different categories of transport: non-medical, medical and emergency transportation.
Non-Medical Long Distance Transport
For those who need transportation but do not have any mobility issues or other health-related issues, car services are a popular choice if you do not want to fly or drive. Car services can provide both short distance and long distance transportation services. An insured, professional driver handles the driving. Customers can use a “driver by the hour” service to have someone drive their own car, or can hire a service that provides both the car and driver.
These services are popular in large metropolitan areas where business people use a car service because they want to take calls or conduct work while riding into an office. For long distance travel, those who are not comfortable riding on an airplane or driving themselves can hire car service for long distance transport, including “snowbirds” traveling to Florida or Arizona during the winter months.
If you live in or near a large metropolitan area, it’s easy to find car services through an internet search. As with every type of service, it’s important to look for reviews, references, proper licensing and experience.
The best non-emergency medical transport companies (NEMT) provide end-to-end service for those who need assistance taking a trip that involves flying on a commercial airline. An NEMT company makes all the arrangements for the trips, working with airlines and airports ahead of time to ensure the client’s needs are met.
NEMT companies also have an experienced flight nurse who accompanies the client on their journey, starting from when they leave their home to when they arrive at their destination. They help clients navigate airport and security, and then ensure their comfort and safety during the flight. They also administer medication and have training to provide medical services at high altitudes.
People in many different situations hire NEMT companies to get long distance medical transportation services at a rate far below what emergency services require.
Seniors who want assistance when relocating to a new home
People with disabilities that impact their mobility
Those with dementia issues
Those have suffered an injury that impacts mobility
Those injured while on vacation who need medical care for their trip back home (known as medical repatriations). NEMT provides a far less expensive air ambulance alternative.
Older travelers who feel more comfortable making long distance trips with medical assistance
Finding NEMT services requires searching online for companies that offer all the services you need while also having nurses with years of experience in trauma care and in-flight care. The best NEMT services handle all the arrangements, no matter where you travel, and in a variety of different circumstances.
Emergency Medical Transportation Services
When it comes to long distance transportation that involves medical care, emergency medical transportation is the most well-known and also the last you want to use. Emergency services, including air ambulances, are expensive and typically only necessary for those who need immediate medical care to survive.
Emergency medical transportation is used after accidents and natural disasters. Trained paramedics travel on the flight, providing medical care to keep patients alive before arriving at a hospital. People rarely try to find emergency long distance transportation – they are reached by calling emergency phone numbers and then dispatched by local government agencies.
All three of these long distance transportation services are available, depending on your needs. For most people who need long distance medical transportation, an NEMT company is the best choice outside of the rare emergency.
The most common theme for winter travel involves “flying south” to sunshine, warmer temperatures and (most importantly) no snow to shovel. But if your travel plans involve going north, then this winter air travel checklist can help you pack for a cold destination while also packing light.
The “packing light” part is the most difficult. Even if you limit what you take for cold weather, it still takes up more room than, say, beach wear. Much like planning ahead for the chance your flight gets canceled, you want to consider as many options as possible when packing for cold weather destinations.
Packing For Winter Air Travel
There’s no way around it: this is going to take a bit of planning. When getting ready to spend time in cold weather, it’s important to pack heavier clothes, as well as clothes you can layer and extra accessories. But you’ll want to ensure all this can fit into your check-in and carry-on bags.
What you take can depend on just how cold it is where you are going. However, almost every cold weather destination involves taking some version of the following. As with travel at any time of the year, you also want to consider buying travel insurance before taking off to a cold weather destination, especially if you’re a senior.
Heavy Winter Coat
This is where every winter air travel checklist should start. Not having the right kind of coat can make any cold weather destination miserable. If you live primarily in a warm weather spot, then a heavy winter coat might not even be in your closet. A heavy winter coat means a down jacket or parka – especially the latter if you plan on spending a great deal of time outdoors.
Sweaters and Sweatshirts
You’ll want long-sleeved shirts to wear both outside and inside. Nice sweaters are perfect for going out, while sweatshirts are practical for when you don’t need to dress up. Long-sleeved t-shirts can work inside once the heating warms you up.
Every person who lives in the north has at least one great hoodie. You’ll need one for your trip. They’re perfect for cold weather and give you something to cover your head if the wind picks up or snow begins to fall. Covering your head also keeps the warmth in your body, so if you don’t pack a hoodie, make sure you pack good hats (see below).
Next to not packing a warm enough coat, footwear is the No. 1 area where people traveling to a cold weather destination make a mistake. You’ll want real boots built to withstand walking through snow or over potentially slippery terrain. Most importantly, they keep your feet warm and dry.
The modern denim jeans were invented by two guys who grew up in cold weather locations – Levi Strauss (Germany) and Jacob Davis (Latvia). They knew what they were doing. Originally made for factory workers and ranchers, the practicality of denim jeans makes them the perfect choice when packing for cold weather destinations. For those who don’t want to wear jeans, fleece-lined leggings can keep you warm.
Gloves or Mittens
Like your head, keeping your hands and feet warm retains body heat, leaving you much more comfortable. Gloves are the most practical choice, but mittens can keep your hands even warmer (which helps explain this photo featuring a cold weather veteran).
Beanies or Trapper Hats
If you’ve spent time in the north, then you’ve likely heard a mom yelling to a child, “Put your hat on!” A warm head equals a warm body. Beanies are everywhere in the north and are excellent for retaining body heat. Trapper hats are even better if you plan to spend a great deal of time outside.
Scarves and Thick Socks
Now’s the time to make sure you have plenty of thick socks. Scarves are a great (and fashionable) accessory that keeps your neck, and therefore the rest of your body, warm.
Another key to your winter air travel checklist is the idea of layering. Rather than trying to pack every article of warm clothing available, think what clothes you can use in layers. You can stay warm with a T-shirt covered by a long-sleeved shirt and a thick hoodie in many types of weather. If possible, wear some of the heavier items on the plane trip so you don’t have to pack them.
The items on this winter air travel checklist list can help you pack for a cold weather destination – and keep you warm once you get there.
Having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) does not prevent a person from traveling. It’s possible to fly with ALS across the country or to other parts of the world as long as you follow travel tips that keep you safe and comfortable.
Hiring a flight nurse with expertise in commercial airline medical escort services can also provide benefits for those with ALS. Whether or not they choose to fly with a nurse, the key to safe travel for those with ALS is to take the time to plan ahead and anticipate any challenges before they happen.
Tips For Travel Preparation For Those With ALS
Those with disabilities, including ALS, travel more today than ever before. The ALS Association writes that “the travel industry is paying greater attention to their special needs by providing more services and accommodations.” The same is true for most airports and airlines, who focus more than ever on making travel comfortable for those who fly with ALS or need assistance.
The association also offers some tips for ALS travelers. It starts with advice that is important for anyone traveling with a disability or injury: check with your primary care physician first to ensure it’s safe for you to travel. Other recommendations before starting your journey include the following.
Carry a letter from your healthcare provider that describes your condition, medications, potential complications, and other medical information.
Carry a living will
Take enough prescription medication to last the entire trip, and pack it in your carryon bag.
Ensure you have adequate health insurance coverage, including coverage for medical evacuation. If leaving the country, ensure coverage includes travel overseas.
Carry emergency contact information. Share your itinerary, airline tickets, credit cards, and passport details with a trusted family member or friend who is not traveling with you.
The association also recommends that those with ALS consider answers to important questions, such as whether you will need an assigned seat in a specific location, assistance you will need during boarding and deplaning, and time you need to make a connection if you plan to transfer planes.
Tips For Flying With ALS
It’s important to contact the airport and airline ahead of time for any special requests, such as preferred seating on the plane or help getting into and out of a wheelchair. If you use any type of medical equipment or device, you also must get approval by giving the airline notice at least 48 hours before your trip.
While transportation officers may not require you to take off your shoes, belt or light jacket when going through security, you still will be subject to screening and a possible pat down. Also, check your wheelchair or scooter at the boarding gate and request that it be brought to the boarding gate at your destination airport.
Have batteries to run any equipment or devices while on the plane, as only some planes have electrical outlets to plug in devices.
You also should plan ahead for how you will deal with going to the restroom if needed while on the plane. Flight attendants can use a special onboard wheelchair to move you, but they cannot provide lift assistance. The ALS Association advises that men consider using a condom catheter or adult diaper and women consider using an external female catheter or adult diapers.
Travel With a Flight Nurse
A flight nurse who works with a non-emergency medical transport company can provide assistance that makes flying with ALS that much easier. Those with ALS can work with a RN Flight Coordinator who makes all the travel arrangements in advance, building the most convenient travel itinerary possible.
They also will contact airports and airlines ahead of time, making any special arrangements required, as well as set up transportation to and from the airport.
During the journey, flight nurses travel with you, keeping track of medical equipment, medications and helping with issues such as going to the bathroom and ensuring wheelchairs and scooters are safely stored and available when you arrive at your destination.
It’s possible to fly with ALS with the right amount of planning and attention to detail. For those who feel they will require assistance, traveling with a flight nurse can make the experience safer and more comfortable.