If you feel inexplicably unwell following a flight and/or have experienced exposure to strong smelling fumes (similar to ‘wet dog’, sweaty gym shoes’, burning oil, vomit-like, chemical-type smells) or a visible mist/ 'smoke' on board a flight, it is important to see your GP straight away, latest within 48 hours and ask that body fluid tests are done straight away.(check: International Medical Protocol). Symptoms can be immediate while inhaling toxic pollution ( headache, dizziness, burry vision, itchy eyes, neausea etc).
Passengers, pilots and cabin crew who have experienced an acute visible or invisible fume event, or on a long-term basis, a constant exposure to contaminated cabin air due to the nature of their profession, or as a frequent flyer, complain of a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms can disappear after a short while for some, for others they keep coming and going, and for others they are constantly present - especially when back to work on board.
SYMPTOMS you could have, and why.
AS MENTIONED ABOVE, symptoms can be immediate while inhaling toxic pollution ( headache, dizziness, burry vision, itchy eyes, neausea etc). The toxic chemicals in these fumes attack the central nervous system (CNS) which consists of the spinal cord and the brain which is the major functional part of the CNS. Repeated exposure and/or an acute, heavy fume event can cause severe neurological injury to the CNS with many and varied symptoms, and can result in the so called ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome‘. But, not only the CNS can be affected, but all other organs as well: heart and lungs being the most obvious ones one becomes aware of. Many aircrew victims speak of feeling like ‘zombies’ or as if in a ‘vegetative state’, or as if they were‘permanently intoxicated’. The individual symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed and mistreated. (list of symptoms: scroll down, see right side panel).
INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL PROTOCOL
IMPORTANT: Certain tests can only be done within maximum 2-3 hours after exposure – check out the protocol below.
Your GP may be unaware (< click for info) of the effects of exposure to contaminated aircraft cabin air, so it may be helpful to refer them to this page: INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL & LABORATORY PROTOCOLwith guidance to which tests should be done, when and why. After an incident with suspected cabin air contamination it is in your own best interest to compile a complete medical documentation, including diagnosis in case of subsequent medical problems that may require a work related injury record.
Note: The International Medical Protocol has been reviewed by our panel of medical experts and is updated regularly.
Most physicians are unaware of the contamination of the aircraft breathing air with neurotoxic chemicals and the effects of a poisoning, and have never heard of the term Aerotoxic Syndrome. Due to this they often diagnose sufferers instead with psychological or psychosomatic disorders (i.e. they’ll tell you “it’s all in your mind”), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), “mysterious” viral infections, sleep disorders, depression, stress or anxiety – or simply “jet lag”, which is caused by crossing time zones. Such part-diagnoses on their own miss the root cause of the problem, which is a poisoning after exposure to toxic jet-oil components jet-kerosene fumes and insectizide spraying in a confined space. Furthermore, any misdiagnosis is likely to lead to inappropriate treatments, which may make the condition even worse.