How Long After Pneumothorax Can I Fly (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2-3 weeks

A Pneumothorax or deflated lung is a situation of complete collapse or a collapse of only a portion of the lung. There are numerous reasons for Pneumothorax, such as lifestyle changes( usage of drugs, especially inhaled drugs, drastic change in air pressure while flying, and other activities like deep-sea diving and scuba diving); Injuries ( gunshot wound, stab wound, Lung puncture during biopsy or nerve block).

Pregnant ladies and skinny people are at higher risk and due to medical conditions like (Asthma, Pneumonia, Chronic obstructive Airway Disease, Connective tissue disease, Mucoviscidosis, Chronic bronchitis, Thoracic endometriosis syndrome (TES), Cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis, Lung carcinoma, LAM, Ectopia lentis, Phthisis, ARDS) and many more.

If you have the symptoms stated above then you quickly need medical attention. Pneumothorax is generally diagnosed by X-Ray, CT scan, to get more detailed images, Ultrasound Images are also used.

How Long to Avoid Flying After Pneumothorax?

Due to in-flight pressure air travel poses risk to patients with pneumothorax, even a small pneumothorax becomes bigger in size during the flight which may cause severe pain in the chest and becomes fatal too. As, altitude increases, barometric pressure decreases causing breathing problems. After pneumothorax, you should avoid flying for a minimum of 2-3 weeks and a maximum of 6 weeks so that your lung gets time to heal. But consult your doctor first to avoid any risk.

According to Boyle’s law, the volume and absolute pressure of the gas are inversely proportional to a uniform temperature of the atmosphere. The atmospheric pressure decreases when there is an increase in altitude during a flight because of the expansion of the gas trapped in the body cavity. There is about 25% to 30% expansion of gas in the human body at high altitudes of flights.

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Intrathoracic gas expansion occurs because of an awol of connection with the tracheobronchial tree which prevents balancing of the pressure inside your chest cavity. You should just not take your health lightly, the person should be clinically stable and physically fit to travel with a flight to avoid any emergency during traveling. If you are planning a trip but not sure about your health then you must purchase airfare with flexible offers to avoid financial loss due to sudden cancelation.

TreatmentObservation Period
Conservative24 hours
Aspiration2 days
Chest tube3-4 days
Surgery2-3 weeks

Why Does Pneumothorax Take That Long and Why to Avoid Flying?

Due to quick changes in the concentration of gases at higher altitudes, a normal person can feel uneasy, but if you are a patient of pneumothorax, you need to be extra attentive to your health on a flight. As, after pneumothorax, a person should give time to lungs for healing and gaining its previous strength back, which is very important to avoid anything serious in the future.

As in this span of time, you need proper screening and quick medical help if you face any problem in breathing. Your health should be monitored closely as it is not a joke this can be fatal if not taken seriously. So, you should first complete your medical routine and then plan a trip for yourself from a flight.

Not only passengers with active pneumothorax but passengers with a close or treated pneumothorax may also experience discomfort in breathing while traveling due to expansion of gases with the risk of developing a tension pneumothorax and a cardiovascular collapse too. Not only this even a healthy person with no history of pneumothorax may experience pneumothorax during a flight because of the changes in the surroundings, if your body cop-up with the changes, then it is a safe journey but if not then it may be problematic for you.

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Due to many emergency cases of pneumothorax in flight now there is an emergency treatment at airports for these cases which includes treatments like oxygen therapy for the patient, intercostal tube drainage, and tube thoracostomy.

Conclusion

Pneumothorax is rare, but it is serious. If you have any symptoms of pneumothorax like chest pain, heavy breathing, suffocation the rush to the hospital immediately as this can be fatal. Most importantly flying just after pneumothorax is not advisable, even small pneumothorax while flying can grow in size and become fatal.