International Life Flight

Body Changes at High Altitudes


Body Changes at High Altitudes

Medical flight teams have to be prepared for a wide array of possibilities and variables when gearing up for air ambulance flights. Air medical transportation presents a specific set of critical care circumstances that require special precautions, planning, and equipment. Charged with the delicate and time-sensitive task of safely delivering a patient to their treatment destination, the medical team and flight nurse already face a challenging mission. But the body changes that occur at high altitudes add another complicated layer to medical flight services- one that an aero-medical company must always be prepared for.

While air ambulances generally don’t reach the extreme heights of a commercial airplane, the body still behaves differently than it would if traveling by ground. The rapid speed combined with the reduced oxygen that occurs at higher altitudes leads to unique body changes that all medical teams must be ready to face. When sudden changes in pressure occur, a patient on an air ambulance flight could experience ear pain, gastrointestinal discomfort including nausea and vomiting, and even toothaches (tiny pockets of air can get trapped in deep fillings and cause sharp pain). Rapid altitude changes can even cause joint pain not unlike what a scuba diver experiences when surfacing too quickly. Some other reactions to altitude that patients may experience while on a medical aircraft are dehydration, swelling of limbs, and headaches.

The good news is these medflight-specific body changes are easily handled by iLife’s skilled medical teams. Our professional staff is competent, experienced, and expertly trained in every vital aspect of air medical transportation. Our flight nurses and paramedics have at least three years of prior critical care experience, and must undergo rigorous orientation and continued emergency training. Further, our comfortable and pressurized air ambulances are set up to perform like intensive care units: each one is fully equipped with the most advanced compressors, monitors, defibrillators, and emergency medications to treat and stabilize every possible body change. To learn more about our aero-medical company’s trusted staff and services, contact us online or call (425) 320-6667.


This entry was posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 at 3:43 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.