Flying : with COPD/ASTHMA my respiratory nurse advice

The nurse has told me that it is better not to fly with this, as the increased risk of getting chest infections etc. is increased because the air is recycled on the plane, and is usually full of bacteria. What I wonder have other people's experiences of this been like, I would like to go on holiday only a two hour flight. But now I am worried, it might make me more ill. What do people think about this advice? I am now a bit frightened to fly...

21 Replies

Very interesting, thank you

Yep , interesting reading

I have flown with severe COPD for years without catching any infections.

Ignore her, she is probably jealous she isn't going on holiday this year. I have had Asthma for over 30 years and COPD for the last 6 years and I have flown many times without any problems

I hate this kind of negativity. You need to live as normal a life as possible.

Ive not caught infections from flying but I always use First Defence which you can buy at Boots and squirt it up my nose as per directions. I use tea tree essential oil on my hands and put a little round the inside of my nostrils. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth and make sure to wash them soon as you land. All general infection control. Also drink loads of water as the immune system doesnt like getting dehydrated.

I assume you are ok oxygen-wise - otherwise ask your resp nurse or GP re having a fit-to-fly test so that you can get oxygen on the flight if you need it. Don't let copd stop you doing the things you want to do :)

May you could wear a face mask on the plane? I do.

She is talking utter garbage. Does she have any statistics to justify what she says (and where did she get them!)

Hello there , I have flown several times since Asthma/COPD diagnosis with no flare up, but find a similar thing on coaches as the nurse is talking about, the air vents causing increased COPD symptoms. Think you need to try as we are all different. They do carry oxygen on flights in case of severe breathing problems. Have never tried a long haul flight though. Best Wishes

I believe you can get nose filters or you can get a face mask for over your mouth and nose. I have COPD and emphasima and for the last 7 yrs lived in Thailand and i go back to New Zealand 2-3 times a year on a 12 hr flight.

I would like to ask you about travel insurance. Any recommendations please?

I have had chronic asthma since 8 weeks old which is now COPD. My peak flow is 250. I have flown many times including long haul. In fact in two weeks I am flying to USA to celebrate my 60th. The only times I do find it hard is night flights. Check with your Dr or phone the Asthma Nurse at Asthma UK for advice.

My husband has severe COPD and we have flown many times with no problems. Make sure you use 'Special Assistance' and he was also advised to use Vaseline round the nostrils, apparently this helps to trap bacteria! Have a good holiday!


I travelled to Los Angeles 2 years ago...My doctor advised me to take my blue inhaler before boarding and if I felt ill during flight to take it when I needed ihad no problem it was an 11hour flight .

I have severe C O P D

Hope this helps

Wear a mask when you fly. That should keep the germs and bad air away.

Hi i have recently just been to mexico long haul flight my advice is ask your doctor for some steriods and antibiotics this is what my doctor gives me when im flying so if you feel like your having a flare up you can start your steriods and antibiotics hope this helps and i have never had a flare up yet from flying so please dont worry go and enjoy urself x

The last time I flew the day before flying home one of my valves shut down ,I was in hospital for a full day ,had injections in my rear in my arm and on a drip ,they let me out at 11 pm, and I managed to get home with a letter for my doctor ,he said he couldn't read Spanish, gave me antibiotics and that was it. I've never been abroad again.

i Always wear a mask when flying..have not picked up a bug!

You are more likely to get stressed from sitting by some boring idiot who won't shut up all flight or a child kicking the back of your seat. But if worried wear a mask as others have suggested.

I'm a nervous flyer , got a guilty pang reading your post as fear I've probably sat next to you and babbled my way across the sky !

It seems to depend on the airline whether the flight is happy or stressful. Cheap airlines have old planes with not very good air recycling but the more expensive airlines do better with better air. I found that the cheap airlines were worst for going to the toilet as the air in there is even worse.

Good luck with your flights!!!

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