The Dangers of Flying Sick

Recently, I become ill when working a 3 day domestic trip. At first I thought it may be allergies, but then it turned into a full blown cold. Now since I was already on the road, all I could do was just “suck it up” and do the best job I could for the remainder of the trip. I have been flying a long time, and I have defiantly had my share of illnesses on the job. But this particular situation, not only did I have to finish out the trip, but I also had to commute ( by airline) back home to LA from NY. Many of you know that flying with a cold can be very dangerous- Your sinuses get irritated because of the dry air and pressure, your nose and sinus cavities get clogged with mucus, and your ears can fill with fluid.. But did you know that it can actually cause permanent physical damage?
After I finished out my trip (miserably), I headed home on my commercial airline flight. ( by the way, I am convinced I caught this nasty cold on my commuting flight to NY, on the cesspool of germs I call a commercial airplane).
The flight was not fun to say the least. I did my best not to cough or sneeze on anyone but I was flying coach and you know that you are only inches away from the people sitting next to you.. My head felt like It was going to explode and taking cold medication is not an option for me (due to reactions I have). Usually I just take every home remedy known to man to prevent getting sick or at least speed up the recovery.
As we finally started to descend into LAX , I began to feel pain in my ears and a sensation of pressure. It was horrible.. And I have to say, the worst I have ever experienced in all of my years of flying.. ☹ By the tine we landed, I couldn’t hear.. no exaggeration. I felt I had completely lost my hearing!
It was the creepiest feeling ever!
I de-boarded the plane as quickly as I could and ran to get a cab. I know the cab driver thought I was nuts because I was yelling instructions at him just to be able to hear myself! I went straight to urgent care for help…

After a long examination, It was determined that I had a pretty severe ear infection and lots of fluid in my ear canal. I was prescribed antibiotics and some other meds and was grounded from flying until further notice..
How could this have been prevented? Honestly I don’t know. I did not feel ill the first day. And chances are, even if I had a little sniffle, I would have still flown the trip. In my industry, it is common to head out on the road instead of calling out sick.
And I had to fly home to get to a doctor so staying in NY wasn’t really an option at the time. So the reality of it is, its just life.. But I will lend the following advice to anyone who is thinking of flying sick, commercial or for work:
If you can’t avoid the trip, Take any meds you can to keep your head clear ! See a doctor prior to your flight to make sure there isn’t already some blockage going on, and finally, load up on zinc, vit c, elderberry, and lemon to try and naturally slow down the cold. “Nettie pots” work great for the sinus clearing too!

Fly safe and be healthy,
Cobblestones and Heels

Woman Coughing on a Plane


About cobblestonesandheels1

Corporate flight attendant / travel coordinator Southern, CA. Originally from NY. but since home is where the heart is, mine is truly in the whole world. My favorite song and one i would dedicate to all my readers is: "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts"

Posted on February 20, 2013, in Corporate flight attendant. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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