A Pharmacist On The Medications You Shouldn't Take On A Plane

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There are a few things we all know you should never do a plane — like taking off your shoes and socks or hogging both armrests. That’s just common sense!
But turns out, there are some in-flight health no-nos that many of us have inadvertently been making.
According to Nial Wheate, associate professor and programme director of undergraduate pharmacy at the University of Sydney, certain medications can be harmful to take when flying. Here are the ones to look out for:

The Pill

Airplanes are generally typically pressurised to the same atmospheric conditions that are found at 10,000 feet altitude, which means the oxygen level is much lower than that at ground level. Couple this with the lack of movement that comes from sitting in cramped conditions and your risk of developing DVT (deep vein thrombosis) is increased. And according to Professor Nial Wheate taking the contraceptive pill can further heighten that risk.

Given the inherent risk of a blood clot when flying, a passenger should use with caution any medication that can further increase the risk of a clot.
Some brands of contraceptive for women (tablet or implant formulation) are known to increase the chances of a blood clot, although the overall increase in risk is small. While it’s thought the major risk comes from the hormone estrogena review of all the medical evidence in 2014 showed there’s a risk of blood clot from all contraceptive medicines.
-Professor Nial Wheate

The same goes for hormone replacement therapy drugs that contain estrogen, or some fertility medicines, such as gonadotrophins. That said, as the risk is small, there’s probably no need to miss your medication — just take extra care to drink lots of water get up and walk around as often as you can.


If you’re struggling with hay fever or an itchy cough, you may turn to antihistamines to help you sleep on the plane. But according to Professor Nial Wheate, you should avoid sedative antihistamines, as these are known to depress breathing — which can be especially dangerous in the low oxygen environment of the airplane.

Struggle with plane breakouts? Here’s how to prevent your skin from going nuts when you travel.

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