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Old Feb 13, 10, 10:15 pm   #1
 
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How dangerous are seizures in flight

I traveled last week, a passenger in the row in front of me suffered multiple seizures in flight. After the third one they finally called for a medical professional on board. The flight did not divert, though it was held at the gate to get a medical professional. I did not realize they were seizures until the medical professional thing happened

Question is, how dangerous is this? If its very dangerous, I'm sure I'll let the flight attendants know in the future when I first see a sign of it, or is it controllable and ok to proceed to destination? I guess we had about two hours after the last incident until destination.
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Old Feb 13, 10, 10:55 pm   #2
 
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Originally Posted by closetasfan View Post
I traveled last week, a passenger in the row in front of me suffered multiple seizures in flight. After the third one they finally called for a medical professional on board. The flight did not divert, though it was held at the gate to get a medical professional. I did not realize they were seizures until the medical professional thing happened

Question is, how dangerous is this? If its very dangerous, I'm sure I'll let the flight attendants know in the future when I first see a sign of it, or is it controllable and ok to proceed to destination? I guess we had about two hours after the last incident until destination.
It depends on the type of seizure. For some types, if it lasts more than a few minutes it can be pretty dangerous.
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Old Feb 13, 10, 11:06 pm   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by closetasfan View Post
I traveled last week, a passenger in the row in front of me suffered multiple seizures in flight. After the third one they finally called for a medical professional on board. The flight did not divert, though it was held at the gate to get a medical professional. I did not realize they were seizures until the medical professional thing happened

Question is, how dangerous is this? If its very dangerous, I'm sure I'll let the flight attendants know in the future when I first see a sign of it, or is it controllable and ok to proceed to destination? I guess we had about two hours after the last incident until destination.
In nearly all cases, a short-lasting seizure in flight would not be dangerous, but there's certainly a small chance that it would be. Multiple seizures very well could be dangerous. I would only trust a neurologist or, perhaps, an ER physician or medical intensivist to say with confidence that multiple seizures in rapid succession were not dangerous.
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Old Feb 13, 10, 11:09 pm   #4
 
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This may be common for this person. You might not have been close enough to know or hear, but maybe they had a travel partner that explained this to the FA. Had they not, I don't know why this wasn't attended to sooner.
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Old Feb 13, 10, 11:21 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by pragakhan View Post
This may be common for this person. You might not have been close enough to know or hear, but maybe they had a travel partner that explained this to the FA. Had they not, I don't know why this wasn't attended to sooner.
Agree.

And I was thinking of generalized seizures in my previous post. There may be other, more "mild" types of seizures that would be far less worrisome.
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Old Feb 14, 10, 10:14 am   #6
 
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If the person was not seated they could sustain injuries from falling or hitting something. They could also bit their tongue and have unpleasant bleeding. If a seizure lasts a while they could also aspirate stomach contents and obstruct their airway and/or get aspiration pneumonia. I am surprised that after 3 seizures this plane did not divert in order get medical attention for this person.
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Old Feb 14, 10, 12:18 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by MusicCityMom View Post
If the person was not seated they could sustain injuries from falling or hitting something. They could also bit their tongue and have unpleasant bleeding. If a seizure lasts a while they could also aspirate stomach contents and obstruct their airway and/or get aspiration pneumonia. I am surprised that after 3 seizures this plane did not divert in order get medical attention for this person.
Agreed. Though maybe this was common for the person (which doesn't explain why they would be seeking a medical professional's assistance).
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Old Feb 14, 10, 12:46 pm   #8
 
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One reason that airlines are reluctant to divert in the case of seizures lately is that there has been been a spurt in terms of passengers "faking" seizures while overflying certain countries and then claiming asylum upon landing.

It is a very tiny minority of cases that are actually fakes but enough that the immigration authorities have warned airlines to beware of these.
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Old Feb 14, 10, 1:08 pm   #9
 
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Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
One reason that airlines are reluctant to divert in the case of seizures lately is that there has been been a spurt in terms of passengers "faking" seizures while overflying certain countries and then claiming asylum upon landing.

It is a very tiny minority of cases that are actually fakes but enough that the immigration authorities have warned airlines to beware of these.
Reeaaly that's interesting, I never thought of people faking in order to land somewhere in particular. I wonder what the actual policy is there though, don't the airlines have an obligation to divert for medical emergencies? What if someone died due to lack of treatment because the flight was not diverted.
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Old Feb 14, 10, 7:11 pm   #10
 
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Reeaaly that's interesting, I never thought of people faking in order to land somewhere in particular.
You would be surprised at the stuff that people go through to get into some countries. The most despicable ones to have come to light lately were from a gang who shipped economic refugees INTO Haiti via the DR in the first few days following the earthquake, actually gave them physical injuries to make it appear that they were injured in the quake and then had them medevaced to the first world country that their fake paperwork allegedly claimed they came from. They then claim asylum upon arrival in the country that arranged to medevac them thinking they were a citizen.
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Old Feb 14, 10, 11:10 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
You would be surprised at the stuff that people go through to get into some countries. The most despicable ones to have come to light lately were from a gang who shipped economic refugees INTO Haiti via the DR in the first few days following the earthquake, actually gave them physical injuries to make it appear that they were injured in the quake and then had them medevaced to the first world country that their fake paperwork allegedly claimed they came from. They then claim asylum upon arrival in the country that arranged to medevac them thinking they were a citizen.
Wow, that's pretty bad... although the first world countries should have realized that they weren't citizens before sending a medevac.
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Old Feb 14, 10, 11:22 pm   #12
 
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Also, what might appear to be a seizure is not always a seizure.
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Old Feb 15, 10, 12:32 am   #13
 
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Most epileptic seizures go away in a few minutes and do not require emergency medical attention or hospitalization. IANAD but I am related to someone with this condition.
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Old Feb 15, 10, 1:01 am   #14
 
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Medically, a seizure in a plane is little different from on the ground, except for the cabin altitude. It would like having one in Salt lake City, for example.

The flight doesn't necessary have to land. Flights crews are trained for such events. The Captain consults with medical experts on the ground regarding the pasenger's condition, availability of medical facilities. etc. Often, the flight continues normally. Having a doctor or trained EMT on board helps.
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Old Feb 15, 10, 2:08 am   #15
 
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About seizures-

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan38103 View Post
Medically, a seizure in a plane is little different from on the ground, except for the cabin altitude. It would like having one in Salt lake City, for example.

The flight doesn't necessary have to land. Flights crews are trained for such events. The Captain consults with medical experts on the ground regarding the pasenger's condition, availability of medical facilities. etc. Often, the flight continues normally. Having a doctor or trained EMT on board helps.
If the passenger had never before had a seizure, it could be cause for alarm. But that's rarely the case; more often, it's someone who has been living with them for some time, and if they're of the grand mal variety, I would think it likely that they would have let the cabin crew know ahead of time. As "impressive" as a grand mal seizure may appear, in most cases (specifically after diagnosis that they're not indicative of an underlying serious condition, which could be any of a number of things, including brain clots/strokes) they're not life-threatening.

Many suffer from relatively-minor petit-mal or simple-partial seizures, and in most such cases, you wouldn't even know it was happening unless you happened to be talking to the person at that time. There will usually be tensing up on one side of the body and slurred speach, with a duration of anything from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes.

Epilepsy (which is what we're talking about here) is far more common than most realize. Thankfully it's very controllable in most cases, using drugs.

There is a strong tendancy to over-react when encountering someone with a seizure. When my son had one on a bike ride, causing what I'd call a "controlled" crash (he has some warning, enough to slow down to a stop before one side of his body becomes stiff), it was seen by another cyclist who happened to be a paramedic. He called in the cavalry, and by the time my wife got there (after my son called), which was only maybe 6 or 7 minutes, they had several fire trucks out there and the fire chief was arguing with my wife that they had to take my son to the hospital. It took my wife a bit to educate them and talk them out of that. What would have been best would have been if he'd gotten back on his bike and ridden home, showing them that it's just not that big a deal (for him anyway).

The important thing is to find out if a seizure is "normal" for that person, of if this is their first time. Hope this helps someone-
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