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Ways to tell if you are too sick to fly

A recent poll by TripAdvisor suggests 51 percent of air travelers say they'd rather fly while infected with the flu than pay a $150 airline change fee. A similar survey by msnbc.com found nearly 60 percent of travelers would fly infected instead of taking the hit to their pocketbook.

That's something worth considering during flu season. For every passenger who changes their travel plans will illness strikes, there's at least one other who refuses to cancel.

Here are five signs you're better off keeping both feet on the ground.

IF THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL SAYS SO

The CDC (wwwnc.cdc.gov /travel) won't necessarily come out and say, "Don't fly if you have such-and-such," but it publishes a helpful page on infectious diseases it's trying to shield travelers from. It's safe to assume that if you have something like tuberculosis, you should not be boarding a plane. The CDC Web site has suggestions to help avoid the spread of swine flu.

IF YOU'RE ON THE SICK LIST

The list comes courtesy of Michael Zimring, the director of the Center for Wilderness & Travel Medicine in Baltimore: Don't fly if you've had a significant sinus congestion, surgery on a lower extremity, a recent heart attack or cardiac surgery or recent abdominal or neurosurgery. Why? Someone who had a recent appendectomy, for example, will have residual air their abdomen that air can expand painfully at high altitude and cause major problems. Ouch!

IF YOU CAN'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE

"Generally speaking, someone should not fly if they are unable to walk about 150 feet or climb one flight of stairs without becoming short of breath," says Mark Gendreau, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.Commercial flights subject passengers to physiological and environmental challenges.

IF YOU'RE REALLY NERVOUS

Fear of flying is no laughing matter to the estimated one in five people who suffer from it. Aerophobia can be treated, and you should always have a Plan B. "You're best protected if you consider possible problems ahead of time," says Margaret Lewin, the medical director of Cinergy Health, a Miami health insurance company. Flight or trip cancellation insurance should be considered. Note that many policies have exceptions for pre-existing conditions, so only a "cancel for any reason" policy is likely to cover an anxiety disorder.

IF YOUR SYMPTOMS MIGHT GET WORSE

Feeling unwell now? If you decide to fly anyway, your condition might worsen by the time you're ready to return. The complexities of seeking medical attention at your destination - particularly internationally - build an even stronger case for staying home.

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