Flying with bronchiectasis: Hi, I can’t... - British Lung Foun...

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Flying with bronchiectasis



I can’t find a good answer to this. Since my bronch diagnosis I have limited trips away to Europe, and I use nasal salt spray and salt inhaler when I fly to try and prevent infection. However, I really want one big trip to Namibia for my70 th. It’s an 11 hour flight. I am fit, not on any drugs, except antibiotics when I have infections, though lots of gut problems. How do those of you with this find flying? I know it’s the equivalent of being at 2400 metres. What about the heat? Should I avoid the hottest times of year?

11 Replies

Hello Pjmf

I have lifelong extensive bronchiectasis and dilated cardiomyopathy and am now 68. I have lived in the Middle East and Florida as well as here in England. I have flown anywhere that I wish to go and taken two world cruises and many shorter ones that have taken me to all kinds of weather and atmospheric conditions. Heat, dryness, and other weather conditions do not affect me in the same way that they do those with copd. In fact I have noticed that so called ‘well’ people of my age can be bothered more.

This summer I am flying to Denver, doing a road trip which takes in the Rockies National Park, Rushmore, Seattle and a cruise to Alaska complete with a whale watching trip. I take the same precautions as any ‘well’ person with perhaps a little more attention to avoiding a donation from the sweethearts who will travel with a virus. Cold and flu blocker ( various types on the market) on the aircraft. Lots of hand washing and hand gel. On the aircraft I know that as soon as we hit high altitude all of the mucus in my lungs demands to come out so try to get a seat with easy access to the loo. That done, I usually feel great for the rest of the flight.

You are the same person as you were before your diagnosis and had probably been living with it for quite some years as it does not suddenly appear.

Go for it! Enjoy your holidays.

I hope that answered your question.

Pjmf in reply to Hidden

Very encouraging and sensible. Thanks.

Yogibreath in reply to Hidden

I absolutely love this response and thank you for being so upbeat. Recently diagnosed with Bronchiectasis my anxiety went through the roof. I have two boys aged 6 and 4 so avoiding germs and bugs will be harder.

Hidden in reply to Yogibreath

Yes it's a pain but I brought my children up ok with probably less bugs caught from them than my friends caught from theirs. Now have five grandchildren. Don't visit if there are viruses in the house but now I don't have to. You aren't ill but just living with something that needs awareness and management

I was taught that at 6 years old and it has kept me going as well as my so called normal friends for 65 years.

Yogibreath in reply to Hidden

This gives me so much optimism reading your approach to this. I am arming myself with the following:

Salt inhaler

Accapella instrument

Breathing techniques

Hand sanitiser

Drinking loads of water

Getting plenty of rest

Washing hands often

Cold and flu blockers

Vitamin C/D



Have you anything to add to this list you feel might benefit me?

Hidden in reply to Yogibreath

Just clearing those lungs very well every day and make sure that you have 14 days of whichever antibiotic your consultant thinks that you need at home to take as soon as things change. If your GP argues with this call your consultant's secretary and get the con to write to the GP ( copy to yourself) to instruct them to put them on repeat.

Sounds as though you are doing everything right. I found that starting vit D in 2015 made an enormous difference to the amount of exacerbations.

Yogibreath in reply to Hidden

Thank you again and apologies for all the questions. It’s a bit of a minefield at the moment and I am sure I will get a handle on it as time goes on. My one question is now related to progression. Do the lungs continue to become damaged everytime their is an infection untreated? Mine is mild to moderate thankfully and I am wondering can it worsen on it’s ownover time with or without infections? Having antibiotics on hand will definitely help me for sure. 14 days seems a lot as last course post diagnosis was 6 only with steroids. I see my consultant next Tuesday and a plan we will formulate for my care as I plan on hitting this head on with all I have got.

Hi Yogibreath

I'm afraid I don't have any answers for you but have been reading this with interest as I think I'm in a similar position to what you were 6 months ago.

I haven't had all my tests yet but my consultant seems to think my BE is mild (or should that be 'mild at the moment?!) I'm finding, like you, that no one seems willing or able to talk about progression. I'm not expecting crystal balls, but it would be kind of handy to know what the future might hold, wouldn't it?

I hope you have managed to stay well and that your consultant was helpful x

Best to check with your Doc/Consultant. I am,before I fly on a short (3 hour) journey. I'm on Oxygen, and avoiding the Summer Heat . xxx

I have flown long haul with oxygen provided by the aircraft carrier I sent in a drs Letter and it was under mY seat fair Me tHey ALso provided aa medical seat for myself and husband as my career. I travelled with no problems when we were coming home I had to be checked by a dr because the hub at Doha wouldn’t accept me with oxygen if I was not well enough to fly . He was a lovely man filled in the form no charge Just said if we had any antibiotics we could leave he would be grateful. Best holiday we ever had so if your well enough go for it you only live once NO REHEARSAL good luck 😉

Maybe a good idea to avoid the hottest time of year for your own comfort of breathing I bought a mini nebuliser and asked my GP for some salbutamol Nebs . So I could use salt in it and Salbutamol also

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