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

    In-flight exercises

    1. Make fists with both hands, then open them rapidly. Repeat ten times.
    2. Remove your shoes. Place both feet flat on the floor, then lift up the balls of your feet and spread your toes apart while pressing your heels against the floor, hold for five seconds, then relax; now, press the balls of your feet against the floor and raise your knees (you can increase the effectiveness of this exercise by pressing down on your knees with your hands), hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat the entire exercise ten times.
    3. Press your palms against the seat cushion and lift one knee toward your chin, then relax; repeat, but this time with your other knee. Perform the entire exercise several times.
    4. Hang your foot in the air by lifting your thigh with your hands; rotate your foot ten times in one direction and ten times in the other direction, then relax; do the same with your other foot. Repeat five times.
    5. Turn your chin slowly toward your right shoulder and hold the tension for five seconds; repeat, but this time toward your chest; repeat, but this time toward your left shoulder. Perform the exercise five times.
    6. Lift both shoulders slowly up toward your ears, then relax and allow your shoulders to return to their natural positions. Repeat several times.
    7. With both feet on the floor, run your palms down your thighs and legs toward your ankles, allowing your back to curve forward naturally; then, bring your hands up slowly and straighten your back. Repeat five times.
    8. Clench your seat muscles forcefully for five seconds, then relax. Repeat five times.

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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