Flying with anemia

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What is anemia?

When taking a medical flight, there are some health issues which can present unique problems not encountered when at a hospital or traveling in a ground ambulance. One condition that can be an issue is flying with anemia.

Anemia is a medical condition in which the number of healthy red blood cells in the body is too low. Red blood cells contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin that carries oxygen throughout the body. When the red blood cell count is too low, your body can't function properly. Anemia is an extremely common condition that primarily affects children, pregnant women, and the elderly. The symptoms of anemia include:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain

Can you fly with anemia? 

You can fly with anemia without any problem if your haemoglobin level is greater than 8 g/dl and you do not have any coexisting condition such as cardiovascular or respiratory disease. 

Anemic patients with heamoglobin less than 7.5 g/dl must take additional precautions when flying. Doctors recommend the use of supplemental oxygen in these conditions because of the impact of the flight on the patient’s health. 

In all cases, it is recommended to get your doctor's approval. 

Note: Supplemental oxygen is not always allowed on commercial airliners. You have to get in touch with the airline company well in advance to ask for authorization for the supplemental oxygen. 

Why flying with anemia is problematic

Anemia is problematic when flying normally because the air inside an airplane cabin is pressurized to maintain a similar air pressure as the exterior air at 2,500 meters. When inside a pressurized airplane cabin, gases within the body expand and less oxygen is present in the blood. When flying with anemia, the combination of anemic oxygen loss and air pressure oxygen loss can create a serious health problem. Just one example is they may lose consciousness. 

Air ambulance jet transportation for patients with Anemia

Anemia can be caused by blood loss, decreased red blood cell production, or destruction of red blood cells. Some things that cause anemia are genetic conditions, sickle cell disease for example, but some causes can come about suddenly, like loss of blood. If anemia is detected while on a journey an ambulance jet can still be utilized to fly the patient to the proper care facility. Our medical specialists will consider several factors including the patient’s medical records and current condition and may recommend a sea level flight to transport an anemic patient. This decision can be made at extremely short notice, such as while the patient is being transported to their air ambulance.

What is a sea level flight?

A sea level flight is a special type of flight where in the cabin of the airplane is not pressurized and the air ambulance flies near sea level altitude. The effect of this is to maintain air pressure at a similar level to that on the ground, a pressure level that will not exacerbate certain conditions, including anemia, in patients. As stated, the decision to carry a patient on a sea-level flight can be made at very short notice. Our medical staff are experienced in ordering and carrying out sea-level flights, and our air ambulances are equipped with the latest medical equipment to provide safe, comfortable travel during sea-level flights.

What does my insurance cover?

Each insurance company and plan differ when it comes to air ambulance coverage. Some insurance providers and plans cover all medical air travel, while others place limitations that cover only what they deem to be essential services. To find out what your insurance covers, reach out to your insurance provider. If medical air travel is not covered, you may be able to add coverage before traveling. You can also contact our team to discuss your insurance policy and determine which of our air ambulance services will be covered. If you aren’t able to get insurance coverage, don’t worry. We can transport you even if the insurance company refuses to cover the air ambulance costs or questions your fitness for travel. You don’t need to prove you have coverage or be a member with any particular insurance provider or plan.

How we calculate cost?

If you need an air ambulance flight, you might worry about the cost, particularly if your insurance doesn’t cover medical travel. The cost of every situation is calculated differently, taking several factors into account to determine the final cost. Factors that influence cost include: 

  • The distance covered and route taken
  • The type of air ambulance required
  • The patient’s condition and required medical crew
  • Obtaining permissions and clearance from regulatory bodies
  • Airport landing charges
  • Ground ambulance costs

To get a quote for your specific needs, contact us today. 

Why book with Medical Air Service?

If you have or are at risk for anemia and need an air ambulance that can transport you safely and comfortably, Medical Air Service can provide the best quality in-flight medical care at the most affordable prices. Our medical team has experience providing all types of in-flight care, including ordering sea level flights even at short notice when necessary. Our team can also help you plan your flights and even arrange ground transport to get you exactly where you need to go. With tie-ups to major airports and smaller airfields, we can offer service around the world. 

Contact us

Our team members are available 24/7 for consultation and can provide a no-obligation quote for the services you need.

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