• Question: Why are people with open wounds advised not to travel by planes?

    Asked by harveyb to Rachel, Naomi, Louise on 11 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Naomi Green

      Naomi Green answered on 11 Mar 2015:

      Hi Harveyb!

      I’m not quite sure what you mean by an open wound in this situation but I’ll make stab at answering the question. If someone has recently had a serious accident or surgery then their body will be trying to heal the injury and that means that blood clots will form near the wound. Sometimes a large blood clot can break away from the site of injury and travel around the body through the circulation system to the lungs and block the blood flow to the lungs. This means that the body can not get enough oxygen into the blood flow and can be life threatening. All of this can happen normally on land anyway but when you go in a plane a few things happen which increase the chances of it happening. You are sat still for a long time which means your blood is not flowing around your body as fast as normal making it more likely to clot. Being in the plane means lower levels of oxygen and pressure ,very dry air, and you probably aren’t drinking as much as usual. These things make you dehydrated which again means your blood is more likely to clot. So I think this is why people who have recently had surgery or nasty injuries are advised not to travel because they are at more risk of large blood clots forming which could travel to their lungs and block the blood flow.

      However I want to add I am not a doctor I’m an engineer, I don’t have medical training. If you still have questions about this I think the best person to ask is a doctor.

    • Photo: Rachel Pallan

      Rachel Pallan answered on 16 Mar 2015:

      Hi Harveyb

      I think Naomi has this pretty much covered the only thing I would add is when you fly the air pressure increases (have you ever seen a bag a crisps look like its filling up with air then pop). So if you imagine this in a human it can make parks of your body swell (hopefully not to the point where it pops) but you get the picture so people who have broken bones and have had a cast put on can’t fly in case their body swells under the cast it could be quite painful.

    • Photo: Louise France

      Louise France answered on 18 Mar 2015:

      Hi Harveyb

      I just want to add that its really easy to spread and pick up infections when you have open wounds too, so travelling abroad to risky countries may be a bad idea until your wounds are healed. Skin is the best defence mechanism that our body has against the outside world, so we need it to be healthy to work properly.