Flying and cant breathe!

Hi im Annie and i live in high humidity Cairns in far north Queensland Australia my ixygen levels are always pretty good I have severe emphysema and when I fly i get very distressed need wheel chairPlease anyone got any hints Would oxygen help when u fly Have a thoracic specialist whi does not think i need oxygen but it really distresses me getting on a plane I love this site thankyou

33 Replies

  • From my understanding whilst flying you saturations fall by about 4%. My hospital carries out tests which simulate the pressures while flying. They then advise if you need oxygen and how many litres a minute you would need.

  • Thankyou i dud di ait if tests last year at our hospital but Dont thinj they dud ant simulated flying tests

  • Gee my texting is bad 😄

  • Lol....Have you asked the airline for advice as some do supply oxygen whilst others are happy for you to bring your own.Perhaps that would be a starting point? Then you can say that the airline as recommend this course of action to your specialist.

  • Good idea most seem to require form to be completed by Dr ti bring own oxygen

  • They do

  • Ive not heard about a 4% drop BB, and it's certainly not true in my case. When I was flying using oxygen, I took off the canulae several times and my oximeter showed a fairly quick drop from my normal resting 93/4% to around 79%.

  • From what I remember of the article the average was 4% but with wild variations in some. I would take the test myself as I do not fancy being gasping at 35,000ft.

  • You don't necessarily gasp BadBessie - when I took off my oxygen I didnt feel any different even at 79%, though maybe i would if I'd left it off. But my oximeter showed up the drop quite clearly and even though personal oximeters can be unaccurate they usually vary but up to 3%, not by 14% :D

    Good to take the test anyway - one time before I was tested I was flying and could breathe in the air perfectly easily - no breathlessness at all - but it didnt feel like it had oxygen in it - like some how it was empty, hard to explain but a horrible sensation. Possibly there was a lower than usual oxygen level in the cabin - when I explained it no-one seemed to know what had happened. It was after that that I asked for the test.

  • Hi 02

    The info I received was that inflight oxygen is 20 percent less than sea level


  • Yes Ive always understood that Jimmy.

  • Me too!

  • I can't help with this one sorry, but I'm sure someone on here can. Hope you get it sorted 😊 xxx Bernadette

  • Thankyou

  • Hi Annie. Is the issue that you are afraid of flying, or is it that flying affects your breathing? XXX

  • Love flying just cant breathe flew from Australia to new yik last year on way homr went through dallas then LA to Hong Kong ended up in hospital there wheel chairs at every stop to get thro terminals

  • It was a very long flight abd high altitude but i have a son whi to lives 2 hours flying away and i still am gasping 😔

  • Thanks Annie. In that case you need a proper assessment. Good luck with it all. Hope you get sorted. XXX

  • Annie, you need a fit-to-fly test. If your local hospital doesnt do this, then ask to be referred to one which does. It's dangerous to fly without oxygen if your oxygen saturation is dropping below 88%. Very many people who are severe do need oxygen to fly, including myself. But some don't. The point is that you need to know. It's not the breathlessness which will damage you, unpleasant as it is. Low oxygen saturations can damage your vital organs and that's why it's crucial to know.

    Just to add, I think it's cavalier of your specialist to "think" you will be ok. Mine thought I would be ok but sent me for a test anyway - and he was wrong, my sats did drop enough to need it.

  • Thankyou i have a great GP and he has all my test results si I'll talk to him

  • Good - people are all different and no-one should make assumptions about how we will react. Let us know how you get on Hopeymon.

  • I sure will i feel so much better having you all to chat to

  • I'm in the same position as you but my consultant has nevertheless sent me for ambulatory oxygen assessment and fit to fly test, both next week.

  • Good for her/him Carnival

  • He is very good and also an expert in bronchiectasis, also did a PhD in my type of congenital heart disease.

  • A committed person then. :)

  • Certainly seems to be, also pleasant and amusing which also helps

  • Rang specialist tofay seeing him in a month

  • I had a fit to fly test and need oxygen to fly nowadays. I was also told by hospital that oxygen levels, whilst in flight, drop by 20% for all. So if they aren't too good to begin with this could be pretty serious. I'd ask for the test and hope you pass as having to arrange oxygen to fly can be expensive and very time consuming too. The cost of your travel insurance will increase as well, that's if you can get any. Good luck, get tested and happy flying. Joy.

  • Cost a fortune for insurance last urar and excellent treatment st QE hospital. In Hong Kong cost ne AU $200.! ! Cant affird not to get it xxthanks all for your help x

  • Hi Annie, you can contact the airlines for supplemental oxygen. Many people with low saturation find it helps. Your doctor should be able to advise you on this.

  • When I fly I always take and use my portable o2 machine

  • Well flew a 2 hour flight to Gold Coast Coming home o2 at 94 when plane got to cruising went to 84 ,went to toilet it droped to 74!! So it will be o2 next time i fly.

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