Safe air travel. Preventing in-flight medical problems

Nurse Pract. 1994 May;19(5):39, 43-6.


Studies indicate that the incidence of in-flight medical emergencies is low, yet the huge volume of air travelers create the potential for a significant number of in-flight problems. Many medical conditions are aggravated by factors in the cabin environment, such as reduced air pressure, low humidity, turbulence, and immobility. In particular, reduced cabin pressure, occurring at higher flight altitudes, produces hypoxia and expansion of body gases, which may adversely affect those with cardiac, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, head, eye, ear, nose, throat, neurological, and obstetrical disorders. The risk of in-flight medical problems can be reduced through appropriate patient evaluation and counseling prior to flight. Education of both patients and health care providers is needed to promote safe air travel.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Emergencies*
  • First Aid
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Travel*