• Taking Precautions When Traveling by Air

    Posted by mark-koziol on May 16, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    I am taking a trip overseas very soon and I was curious to see if our PF forum members have any suggestions about flying and staying free of both bacterial and viral illnesses. A few years ago, I had a single lung transplant due to my diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). My wife and I will be boarding 10 different airplanes over a 3 week period. In one sense I feel like I am playing a game of Russian roulette but on the other hand; I am going to prepare myself as best I can and be proactive in avoiding illnesses.

    My wife and I have taken several trips involving airplanes since I was transplanted. We have a pretty good routine to avoid getting ill:

    • I wear my surgical mask in the airport but not on the plane, per doctor’s suggestion.
    • We board the plane when they ask if anyone needs assistance.
    • My wife scrubs down the row of seats we are sitting, the tray tables, and the back of the seats directly in front of us.
    • I try to avoid touching anything with my hands, and if I need to shake hands I give them a fist bump. It is unbelievable to see how many people get offended by this. The people who know me and my experience, understand that this is my norm.
    • I keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my personal carry-on bag.

    The list is not long but I do think following this routine has helped keep me from getting sick while traveling. One of my biggest fears is getting sick before we leave. I see my doctor on May 30, 2019, several weeks before we begin the first leg of our trip. I seem to be past the flu season; however I did contract a respiratory virus named coronavirus. Every year since my transplant I have contracted some type of respiratory virus. Usually they were treated with a steroid taper but this year they let the virus run its course.

    I carry my oximeter with me when I travel. On the planes I have found my oxygen saturation is below my usual normal. When I have to get our luggage out of the overhead bin my saturation drops dramatically. I try to avoid this but sometimes I have to do it so I don’t disturb others. Per suggestion from my doctor; I stand up and walk around at least once an hour to get the blood moving in my legs. I haven’t had any problems with edema in my legs as of yet.

    Fortunately, I have avoided illness while traveling and I hope to keep this record intact with my trip coming up.

    Forum members: do you have anything to add to my list?

    What have you done previously to protect yourself from illness while traveling?

    mark-koziol replied 4 years, 11 months ago 5 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • jeannie-finley

    May 17, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    I read somewhere that staying hydrated was important and that the window seat was the best.

    • mark-koziol

      May 17, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      Hello Jeannie, thank you for commenting. I know about the hydration aspect, which is also true for persons who do not have PF. The lower humidity on the airplane can lower your immune system making you more susceptible to illness. I should of wrote that in the topic but I can blame this on my prograf and the memory loss it causes. I have not heard of sitting next to the window other than you have a sort of wall next to you and not another person. Thank you, Mark.

      • jeannie-finley

        May 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm

        I believe the sitting next to the window advice is that you have the wall and one other person. The other seats put you in contact with more people. The aisle seat would probably expose you to the most people.

      • mark-koziol

        May 20, 2019 at 1:27 pm

        Hello Jeannie, I would agree with you on your assessment. However, I do like the aisle seat. I am a person of not normal size. The aisle seats tend to give me slightly more room although I get knocked in the shoulder constantly. Thank you Mark.

  • obleek

    May 18, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    All good precautions.

    We also turn the air vent on high.

    I wear a device called an Airtamer A310(available on Amazon) when I’m on a plane , train, in a theatre or any crowded place.  I know people who fly frequently that swear by  it but who knows.

    Stay well


    • mark-koziol

      May 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm

      Hello Rob, thank you for reading. I also turn our vents on high, I like to keep that stale air moving. The airtamer looks like a very helpful gadget. Thank you for the suggestion. I didn’t know something like this even existed. I’m going to look into it. If you can think of anything else, please share. I know after I write the forum topic I immediately thought I could of added this, this, and this. Thanks again, Mark.

  • robert-morrison

    May 21, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Hi Mark,
    When I was younger and working I made many trips to the Far East most frequently to the Philippines and China. I always seemed to return home with a bronchitis feeling in my lungs. And I mean every trip. My doctor prescribed Nasonex or Flonase nasal spray which I always started two days before the flights and continued on the flight when I could. I didn’t use it overseas but I followed the same routine flying home. It worked perfectly. I even accused my doctor of being a genius, much to her delight. You may find a nasal spray a good preventative step. Good luck and safe travels.
    Robert Morrison

    PS: When you return I would like to learn about how you lost the weight prior to your transplant. I have a BMI of just over 31 and I am told I need to be around 28. For me that means I have to lose 40+ pounds. Yikes!

  • mark-koziol

    May 21, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Hello Robert, thank you for the comments and your well wishes. I actually have couple bottles of Flonase sitting on my medicine shelf. Robert are you sure you have to lose 40 pounds, sounds like an awful lot for 3 BMI points. When I had to lose 80 pounds I focused on eating 5-6 small meals per day. It was comprised mostly of protein and light carbs. (Fruits n veggies) I stayed away from sugar and products made from flour. It wasn’t as hardcore as an Atkins or keto diet but it did the job. Eating the small meals tricks your metabolism. The best part, I was never hungry. It’s a simple plan. I also drank lots of water and no soda. I also stayed away from potatoes, rice, and sugar. I did have my days where I ate badly, but sometimes you just have to. If you have any more questions, I’m here. Mark

  • laura-bush

    May 25, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Good morning! I’m flying from Cleveland to Dallas today and although I have never been a nervous flyer, I’m feeling a little anxious this time. I have my mask, pulse oximeter, mucinex and flonase packed in my personal carry on so I should be all set. I’ve been up all night so hopefully I’ll sleep most of the flight! Wish me luck!?????

    • mark-koziol

      May 25, 2019 at 5:59 am

      Hello Laura, you will be fine. Wipe down your area that you will be sitting and you will be good to go. Relax and enjoy your time away. Best wishes, Mark.

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