I have flown many times post my diagnosis with chronic neurological lyme disease, and none of those trips were ever a walk in the park. At the time, I wasn’t at a place to take my lyme diagnosis, or my impending postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), diagnosis into my own hands. I made do, roughed it through the airport, hoping there would be something I could kind of eat among the local restaurants, knowing I still likely wouldn’t feel well. And I carried far too much with me aboard a plane to avoid outrageous luggage fees.
Now, I rethink each trip, and prepare with POTS in mind. What is going to give me the absolute best chance for success? Traveling is a destination, hopefully to something enjoyable, but regardless, a destination that requires a certain amount of energy and mindfulness.
My seven tips to having a successful flight with POTS:
1. Wear a Scarf
Traveling in layers is extremely important on flights, considering you never know if you are going to be too hot, or too cold. However, one thing that is harder to avoid than temperature is smells. For many with POTS, smells of any kind can become unbearable. I always make sure I have something handy, washed in my own unscented detergent to help with any smell that comes my way!
2. Compression Tights!
I would highly recommend investing in a pair of compression socks or tights. Compression tights allow blood to not pool on those long flights, which can easily make our symptoms sky rocket. I would never dream of flying without some type of compression, it helps me out substantially!
3. Eat Ice Chips
Nausea is a very common issue with POTS gut issues. Although there is not a lot of scientific evidence for natural remedies for nausea, many go to peppermint or ginger to help. I rely on flight attendants, knowing they will always have ice chips handy. They hydrate, distract and help my pesky stomach!
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Not properly hydrating is one of fastest ways to exasperate symptoms. Make sure you are hydrating with several liters of water the day before. Drinking a liter of water the morning of is important, and my first stop post security is always the shop for water.
5. Salty Snacks
Salt before your flight, during, and after. Do not rely on what the airport may offer, bring your own snacks! I have found small packs of olives are the best solution for me. If you can tolerate grains, pretzels, or chips are another good option. Salt is very helpful to our low blood pressure stabilized.
6. Last on, Last Off
To avoid standing for too long, I occasionally ask to preboard, but more often than not try to be one of the last on the flight. Similarly, delays are common departing the flight, so I rest and exit towards the end to avoid standing.
7. Bring All Pills With You
This one is a no-brainer, but in case your luggage gets lost, or to avoid missing a dose while you are on the flight, always travel with your pills!
The point is to find what works for you. Do your research, know your condition, and never shy away from what is going to help you have a successful flight.
Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Thinkstock Image By: ZinaidaSopina