What To Do If You're Sick On A Plane

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Whether you’re airsick or ate something you shouldn’t have, being sick on a plane is the worst. Here’s how to get through the ordeal.

Ask for a sick bag

Airlines don’t always put a sick bag in every seat, so don’t count on there being one available at a moment’s notice. When you start to feel nauseated, gather your thoughts and start to make a plan. Press the call button. The flight attendant would rather find you a couple of sick bags and tissues now than have to clean up after you later. As a general rule, it’s better to let the crew know what’s up than to try to hide the fact that you’re feeling sick.

Turn on the vent

A cool breeze on your face can help, so turn on the air vent above your seat, and consider taking off your jacket or sweater. (There’s a second reason for that: if you think you might actually throw up, this reduces the number of items you have to worry about splashing.)

Think about what else might make you comfortable: a sip of ginger ale, perhaps. Closing your eyes and listening to a podcast rather than trying to read. (If you’re airsick, reading tends to make it worse.) Avoid alcohol, and don’t eat unless some pretzels or crackers feel like they could settle your stomach.

Cut the line to the bathroom

Yes, it’s rude to run to the bathroom in front of people who are waiting. But it’s worse for everybody if you wait in line and don’t make it. And yes, we could be talking about either vomit or diarrhoea here.

If you’ll be in the bathroom for a while, make sure to let somebody know so they can check on you. If you’re not travelling with friends or family, give a flight attendant a heads up. Also, be aware they can’t land when you’re in there, so you will have to come out eventually.

Ask for medical help if you need it

Flight attendants really will ask if there’s a doctor (or other qualified medical professional) on the plane in case of a medical emergency.

Every plane carries a first aid kit with basic supplies, and a medical kit that’s available to medical professionals. That kit contains prescription drugs and specialised medical equipment. If you’re very sick, or if you think could be in especially bad shape by the time the plane lands, it’s worth asking for help. For example, a doctor may be able to give you anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal medication, or in extreme cases, even administer IV fluids to keep you from getting dehydrated.

If things do get serious — like you have a life-threatening illness, not just airsickness or food poisoning — in rare cases the flight might be diverted so you can get to a hospital sooner. And whether there is a doctor on the flight or not, the crew is often able to get medical guidance from professionals on the ground, to help figure out how sick you are and what they can do for you while you’re in the air.

Depending on local laws and regulations, airline crews in some countries may be able to hand you over-the-counter medications. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but don’t be surprised if they say they can’t help you. Next time, pack your own dramamine.


Comments

    If you are sick in the plane bathrooms. For gods sake let the attendant know.

    Nothing worse than walking into a plane bathroom after someone has been sick. The smell alone can be terrible

    As a long time air sufferer, the poly bag is always in handbag.
    Last long haul I had fresh chopped ginger in yogurt before flight,
    it actually worked. When person in front reclines seat, that,s when
    I start to feel trapped. Thanks for report, others been through it too.

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