Many patients ask, “is it safe to fly with a concussion?” While the suggested treatment for most concussions is to rest and avoid strenuous mental or physical activities, it is generally safe to fly as long as you’re feeling better and not suffering from any severe symptoms which require emergency care (repeated vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizures, etc.).
If you are still experiencing mild concussion symptoms such as a headache, it is okay to fly, but it is possible that a flight will exacerbate those symptoms.
Some patients have reported intensified headaches, fatigue, and nausea from flying with a concussion, which could be due to the turbulence or changes in cabin pressure. It is also possible that reading, watching movies, and other normal plane activities can make symptoms worse, as it’s important to rest your brain following a concussion.
For these reasons, if you can change your flight plans, delaying your flight may be the safest way to avoid any potential pain, as most concussion symptoms improve within two weeks.
However, if you must take the flight, there are some steps you can take to prevent or at least lessen discomfort:
- Take a pain medication such as Advil to prevent headaches
- Always stay hydrated
- Sleep if you can
- Avoid reading, watching movies, playing video games, or anything else that increases stress to your brain
- Instead, listen to light music, a podcast, or an audiobook
- Consider upgrading to a seat with more room for added comfort
As a rule of thumb, avoid anything that will cause additional stress to your brain.
In conclusion, although it is normally safe to travel after a mild concussion, you may prefer not to, as it could worsen your concussion symptoms. If you have experienced a severe concussion, it is recommended to monitor the symptoms for some time to ensure that no further complications occur.
It is important to consult a certified sports medicine doctor or physical therapist, such as the physicians at Gotham City Orthopedics, for guidance regarding your specific case. Our doctors and therapists specialize in concussion management and post-concussion rehabilitation.
We are also home to Cleared To Play.Org, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to raise awareness of concussion prevention and treatment, to perform free pre-season baseline testing, and to provide comprehensive post-concussion management for local high school and college athletes. Visit us at one of our five locations in New Jersey and New York today.