Air Travel

We all need to get away once and while. However, it is important that you check with your health care provider before traveling by airplane or to places with high altitude or to remote areas where medical care may not be readily available. Some LAM patients have been advised to avoid air travel, because of the theoretical risk of lung cyst rupture associated with atmospheric pressure changes during flight. In a questionnaire study of 276 patients who had taken 454 flights, Pollock-Bar Ziv et al found that air travel is generally well-tolerated by most patients with LAM. Symptoms of anxiety, chest pain, shortness of breath, cyanosis or hemoptysis occurred during or just after 10-20% of flights. Pneumothorax occurred in 10 flights, including eight episodes that were radiographically documented, but in five cases, symptoms suggestive of pneumothorax were present prior to boarding. There have been no air travel-associated incidents requiring hospitalization among the over 500 LAM patients who participated in a decade-long LAM Protocol at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Most patients traveled every six months to the NHLBI to participate in this study, air travel was not recommended to all LAM patients.

Relevant Publications: