Medical problems during a flight

First aid

All Finnair aircraft are equipped with medical oxygen, first aid supplies, an emergency medical kit, an intravenous kit for doctors and an infection kit for use in case of an acute illness during the flight. This equipment will be used by the cabin crew for the protection of passengers and staff in the event that someone on board is suffering from an infection or is suspected of carrying an infectious disease.

The cabin crew are also trained to use a defibrillator to treat acute heart arrhythmia. Defibrillators are carried on board our Airbus A319, A320, A321, A340-300, Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 757 aircraft.

Circulatory problems on long flights

Sitting upright in a stationary position for a long period of time increases the amount of fluid accumulated in the lower extremities, resulting in swollen feet. Prolonged immobility may be a risk factor in the formation of blood clots in the legs (deep-vein thrombosis), so it's a good idea to move your legs and feet every hour or so. Click here to find out about in-flight exercises.

Ear symptoms caused by changes in cabin pressure

The middle-ear cavity is connected to the nasopharynx through the Eustachian tube and therefore to the outside air. The Eustachian tube balances the air pressure in the middle ear, protecting the eardrum in the event of fluctuations in air pressure. During take off and landing, the air pressure inside the cabin will change slightly, which may affect your ears – this is completely normal.

During your flight, your Eustachian tubes may become partially blocked – due, for example, to cold or allergy – and it may take longer than usual for the pressure in your middle ear to normalise in response to changes in cabin pressure. This can cause symptoms such as earache and may result in infection in the middle-ear cavity.

Tips for alleviating ear symptoms during a flight

  • Ear symptoms can be prevented or relieved using the nasal drops and sprays available from most pharmacies. If you have nasal drops, you should administer them deep into each nostril with your head back and as close to horizontal as possible. This allows the fluid to drip down into your throat and pass into your Eustachian tubes, helping them to stay open. Use your nasal drops or spray 20–30 minutes before the aircraft starts to descend.
  • When the aircraft descends, you can help your ears adjust to the changing pressure by holding your nose, closing your mouth and breathing out, forcing air into you middle ears. Swallowing and yawning may also help.

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