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Middle ear surgery and air travel

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The following table is provided as a guide only to the timeframe that should elapse between a medical event and the intended flight. The timeframes may be changed following considered medical assessment of a specific case (2):

Diagnosis

Assessment required by a doctor with aviation medicine experience

Accept as fit to fly if:

Comments

Otitis media and sinusitis

Acute illness or with loss of Eustachian function

If able to clear ears

Tonsillectomy

10 days or less

Although it may be ok to fly between day 3 and 6, there is a significant risk of bleeding between day 1 and 2 and between day 7 and 10

Middle ear surgery

9 days or less

>= 10 days with medical certificate from treating ENT

Ex: Stapedectomy

For up to date advice then check current guidance (1,2).

Upper respiratory tract infection - relative contraindication to flying (3)

Dental surgery - flying is contraindicated for 2 to 5 days (4)

 

Note that these are only guidelines and each airline has its own regulations and medical standards.

Reference:

  • Civil Aviation Authority. Fitness to Fly (Accessed 1/8/19)
  • International Air Transport Association. Medical Manual 11th Edition (2018).
  • Doctor (April 2005). Ready Reckoner - fitness to fly.
  • 'Medical guidelines for air travel', Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, October 1996, 67, 10, 11.

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