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Have had tonsillectomy. Will it be safe to fly in this situation?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
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I had a tonsillectomy the 20th of September and I am supposed to go on a 2-hour flight the 27th of September. I would really not like to miss the flight since that will result in me missing my first lectures at the start of my new term at university. I could re-schedule my flight for the 24th of September if necessary. Would it okay for me to fly?
Posted Fri, 12 Oct 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 2 hours later
Hi, thanks for using healthcare magic

In general as it relates to tonsillectomy, travel is safe after the risk of bleeding has abated.
Though bleeding can occur immediately post surgery, it can also occur later when the wound is healing and the scab tissue is coming off. It is classified as being primary (occuring within the first 24 hrs) or secondary (occuring between 24 hrs and 10 days).

Because of the potential risk of bleeding up to at least 10 days (in rare cases up to 2 weeks), it would be better to postpone your flight.
You don't want to be mid air and bleeding complications start.

You can consider speaking to your ENT surgeon to see what he/she recommends.

I hope this helps, wishing you a good semester
Feel free to ask any questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have had tonsillectomy. Will it be safe to fly in this situation? 52 minutes later
Thank you for the answer. But if I would take the flight on the 24th (4 days after the surgery) wouldn't it be a very low risk of bleeding since the scab tissue wouldn't be ready to fall off yet? And also if I keep on drinking fluids during the flight to keep my throat moist and the flight is also only for 2 hours, wouldn't the risk for bleeding be very, very slim?
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 16 minutes later
Hi, drinking fluids to stay hydrated would decrease the risk of bleeding and healing with loss of the scab may take place after you have arrived, but these are possibilities.The risk is slim and it would be up to you to decide what you wish to do.
It is definately possible that you have a good flight with absolutely no problems, on the other hand the range of secondary bleeding is anytime between 24 hrs to 10days.Unfortunately it would be difficult to pinpoint the exact time or moment that you will be risk free.
What you can do is see your ENT doctor, if he/she examines your throat and based on what is seen, thinks bleeding over that time period is unlikely then you may be given the all clear to go.
It is difficult, not being able to the stage of healing that you are presently at to say that you will definately be ok, I hope you will be but I wouldn' t be able to say definately yes or no.

Have a good semester, feel free to ask any more questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have had tonsillectomy. Will it be safe to fly in this situation? 14 hours later
Okay, thank you. My last question now. I have no yet decided what do to. But say if I would choose to go on the flight on the 24th, and if it would start bleeding. What can I do to try and stop the bleeding / make the situation better? Thank you.
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 7 hours later
Hi, in some cases the bleeding may stop on its own or with gentle gargling with cold water. You can also try to elevate your head.
It is usually advised that if it does not stop when these measures are used then the doctor should be contacted.

hope this helps
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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