Is Flying After a Brain Injury Dangerous?
They say every concussion is different, but there is one thing in common between them all: the suggested treatment mainly consists of sitting and relaxing in a dim or dark room. But, realistically we all have lives and can’t actually sit in a dark room 24 hours a day. It’s widely accepted that you should avoid strenuous activity, but what does that really mean?
A girl, identified as “Liz from Atlanta”, who recently suffered a minor brain injury from a sports-related concussion, recently asked Dr. Jennifer Shu, CNNHealth expert, about flying following a concussion. Specifically, Liz wanted to know if flying not long after her concussion was safe.
To some, flying cross-country is no worse than taking a long road trip in the passenger seat, but others report headaches, fatigue, and nausea from flying, possibly from decreased oxygen levels and changes in pressure. On top of that, Shu points out that extreme turbulence can make headaches worse, though some acetaminophen could possibly head relieve that issue.
Other things you can do to prevent any complications when flying post-concussion are making sure to be well rested before boarding a plane (or sleeping during the flight) and to stay well hydrated. Normal relaxation or distractions such as reading or watching movies can make symptoms worse, so it is important to be aware of the risk and plan ahead to possibly bring earplugs or something else to help you avoid loud noise.
It doesn’t seem that flying after a minor brain injury like Liz’s is all that dangerous, seeing as her CT scan came out clear, and the only symptoms she is reporting are light headaches, but for others with more numerous or severe symptoms that may not be the case and it is best to consult your personal physician before deciding to make your trip.