Use Caution by Wearing a Compression Sleeve Traveling by Air

Exercises, Diets, Nutrition, Vitamins, Health, Coping, gardening, herbal remedies, truncal lymphedema, chronic illness, breathing, stress, arm exercises, leg exercises, water exercises, low impact exercises, weight training, chair exercises, resistance exercises, stretch exercises, lymphatic drainage, detox patches

Moderators: Birdwatcher, jenjay, Cassie, patoco, Senior Moderators

Use Caution by Wearing a Compression Sleeve Traveling by Air

Postby patoco » Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:47 pm

Use Caution by Wearing a Compression Sleeve when Traveling by Air

By Pat O'Connor, Lymphedema People

Jan 3, 2005

There are three reasons for wearing compression wraps or garments while flying. It helps to understand the dynamics of how lymph fluid flows through our system. The muscle action of our bodies pushes against the air pressure which creates the "pump" action for lymph flow.

In flying, this outside pressure changes and fluctuates dramatically, thus causing the pump action to be far less efficient. The result is that the fluid finds it increasingly difficult to leave the arm.

The second reason is that a person is quite sedentary during air flight. Without the muscle activity, lymph flow is already greatly diminished which again leads to increased fluid retention or fluid pooling.

The final reason is the over exertion of the limb involved with carrying baggages, suitcases, etc. This type of extreme exertion may cause an inflammatory response, which we know leads to increased swelling.

There isn't much one can do about the air pressure. One thing I always do while flying is those subtle stretch exercises. Muscle flexes, limb stretching and other very low impact exercises can help. These will also decrease your chance of blood clots, which are another concern with being cramped up with lymphedema.

The over exertion can be helped by learning to pack light, using suitcases with wheels and pull handles, and by being careful of the weight factor on any carry-on luggage. Also, plan your schedule efficiently so that you are not having to make those mad exhausting last minutes dashes.

The National Lymphedema Network has just redone their advisory on air travel. The revised one can be found at:


This is from the Atlantic Breast Cancer Net site. I must tell you, this is absolutely one of my favorite sights for breast cancer.

They have an incredible array of articles, information, links and news.

Visit them at:

Atlantic Breast Cancer Net
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 2175
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 9:07 pm

Re: Use Caution by Wearing a Compression Sleeve Traveling by Air

Postby janae » Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:04 am

hi ,my name is connie i am new to the site and new to this, illness.
i have the opportunity to go to africa next year,can i go i travel this far without harming mysely
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:49 pm

Re: Use Caution by Wearing a Compression Sleeve Traveling by Air

Postby Cassie » Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:38 pm

Hi, Connie, and welcome!
Being new to lymphedema sure can be daunting, so I hope you'll look around this site and begin to make yourself at home with all the information here. We're really glad you found us!

A trip to Africa sounds like a great adventure! Yes, you can travel that far without harming yourself, but it does take a bit of planning. Ask your therapist and doctor to help you plan for all the eventualities, and when you're prepared for them you can relax and enjoy the trip. Some things to consider are:

When traveling far by plane with lymphedema already present, it helps to be wrapped, rather than just wearing your daily compression garments. The wrapping offers better control for the air pressure changes and the inactivity, though it can make getting through security more interesting! I always plan a bit of extra time for all their extra attention. I've found the security folks helpful as long as I'm willing to be agreeable about it. I take some lymphedema information with me and give it to them, too, because the more people who know about it, the better for all of us.

Be sure your lymphedema is in good control before you leave. You might want to make an appointment with your therapist shortly before you leave for re-measuring and last-minute professional massage, just as a way to touch down with him/her about your plans. And talk to your doctor about a filled antibiotic prescription to take along with you in case of any sign of infection. You'll want to keep antibiotic wipes and bandaids with you for any scrapes or insect bites.

Make sure you have all necessary innoculations done in a non-affected limb, and pack along sun protection and insect repellent. Pack ALL your lymphedema supplies in your carry-on to avoid lost-luggage disasters. If your lymphedema is in your arm, be sure your luggage has wheels, and ask someone for help getting it stowed in overhead compartments. (If your arm is wrapped, there are usually people willing to help! :D ) As I board I stop by the flight attendant and tell her I have a medical condition that requires me to stay well hydrated and will need lots of water. They usually hand me a huge bottle of it right off the bat, and they're attentive throughout the flight.

The best preparation for travel is knowing how to do self-Manual Lymph Drainage massage and wrapping, as those are the best tools you have for keeping your lymphedema in the background and focusing on your adventure.

Bon voyage!
Senior Moderator
Posts: 44
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 3:17 pm
Location: AZ

Return to Lymphedema Lifestyles

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests