Concerned about flying with emphysema

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Hello I have just been recently diagnosed with copd emphysema. I am a non smoker. Only smoked a little pot as a teen and no cigarettes. I am 57. I think my lung function is at 62 percent. The specialist was kind of pessemistic the first time I saw him. Basically making me feel like I could go down quickly from this point. But upon seeing him the second time he said he was not too worried about me because I don't smoke and I like to walk and work part time as a health care aid. Anyway my o2 was at 98% in his office so he said I won't need oxygen on the plane but the other day I was just sitting at the computer and felt breathless for a while. All that day really I felt that way. Even walking didn"t help. Anyway am feeling better today. I guess I am concerned knowing that o2 is about 25% or so lower on a plane and worried I might have issues. Any thoughts or encourgements? Sorry this is so long I am feeling quite lost about all of this. Thanks

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  • Posted

    At 02 saturation of 98% and your doctor's advice -  that really is your answer.

    However my lungs don't do well in any entironment of poor air quality so whilst I would still be able to breathe for me it would be very uncomfortable and I certainly wouldn't want to do a long flight if the air quality was poor.  However I think it is only the small planes like easy jet journeys to europe that have poor air quality standards, possibly airlines like quantas or air new zeland for long distance travel may be ok for I don't know because I have no done a long distance flight since being diagnosed. 

    There is of course risk of lung infection with poor air quality circulations, it takes but one person to board the plane with a cold.....

    On the plus side I know of other people who fly without apparent problems so you won't know either way unless you try it and see.

    Happy holidays whatever you decide.


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    • Posted

      Thanks very much for your reply Vee2. Yes you are right. I will know for next time. My daughter is having her second baby so don't want to miss out. Its a four hour flight. Flew last year in Aug with no problems however I  do take an ativan for anxiety. Will let you know how I fair out. I really appreciate this board. Very encouraging and am learning so much. Thanks again all the best!

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  • Posted

    Hi Sue

    I totally sympathize with your fear of flying. My husband has COPD and he's been offered/suggested oxygen at home twice but he turned it down. His lungs are very low functioning. Much lower than yours. Yet this year (last time August) he flew 3 hour flights,twice, kept his ventolin close by, but said he was ok. Still he has just got over an exacerbation a bad one which has got me worried about the future.

    Why don't you discuss a portable concentrator to be used on your flight with your pulmonologist? It might be your answer. I think that is our next step if we want to keep visiting our son and grand daughter in the UK. Perhaps we can swap notes on the pulmonologist's opinion. I am certainly very interested to learn if this concentrator would solve our problem.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for replying Jonah. The thing is I have seen him twice and am not due to see him until Dec. My o2 sats are good at rest and seem ok while walking so doubt he would agree. I just got back from hosp with a 3 hour bout of a-fib!!  Something else to worry about. My flying days are likely soon over. Your hubby does well. Is he symptomatic on the plane. If I take an ativan I just sleep for half of the flight. I will let you know how this flight goes. Its nice to know there others  in the same boat as me! Thanks again
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