Relapse after Flying?

Just wondered if anyone had had a relapse after flying?

I experienced my first episode 4 days after a long haul flight, where numbness started in my fingers, crept up my arm and across the left side of my body down to my waist.

I stayed the same for about a week, then 4 days after we returned home, the numbness crept all the way down my left side to my toes.

Just wondered if flying could have affected me in any way and really stressed about booking another flight! Is this just a big coincidence, or is this typical of a relapse?


Fizzy x

Hi Fizzy,

I did have the relapse that led to my diagnosis shortly after a trip abroad - but only as far as Germany.

Like you, I worried that there might be a connection, but the only way to test it was to take the chance, and fly again. So the following year, I booked up to go to Istanbul. Had no problems at all with that, so I still can’t rule out that it might have been something to do with Germany, but it doesn’t seem to be to do with travelling in general, or flying in particular.

I’ve never been a horse rider, but I do think there’s something in the advice that if you come off, you’ve got to get back on and try again. I think it’s much the same with relapses. If you avoid everything that happened around the same time, you could spend your life being scared of things unnecessarily. All I’ve learnt about relapses is they’re a law unto themselves, and you can’t narrow it down to simple cause and effect. You think you’ve worked out what caused it, only to find it can’t have been, because a near identical repeat triggers nothing.

If flying causes it for me, it definitely doesn’t do so every time.


Long Haul flights involving Jet Lag does affect your metabolism therefore your MS. Going to the USA you probably will be OK as it’s all in the light but coming back is horrendous; the other way around if you go India/Australia.

As Tina says the only thing you can do is suck it and see. I worked for British Airways and one of the things I did in my youth was circumnavigate the world twice continuously on passenger aircraft; some 48,000 miles in 5 days 13 hours and 12 minutes.

I did not get Jet Lag because I slept and ended up on GMT.

What must also be put in the equation is I suffer from PPMS so do not get attacks butt Jet Lag is horrible for anyone so yes will perhaps bring on an attack.


I went to Cyprus in September last year, 4-5 hours there and the same back, had no relapses or after effects.

It’s body stress that tends to affect it I think, it all depends how weak you are, the more you stress your muscles through physical exertion the weaker you become and the more pressure you put on your nerve pathways. Eventually they swell up and you lose the function associated with it.

I was in a wheelchair at the airport and sat on the plane for the entire flight so while I was feeling kinda like luggage it was not particuarly stressful…other than me worrying about toilets…

I know if I exert myself…i.e. stand or walk about for too long, force myself to keep going when my body wants to stop, it can take me several days to recover the strength in my legs, my vision is more blurry as I force myself to keep going and I generaly feel knackered…exerting myself is about an hours worth of work in a day…how bad is that!

Everyone is different, but I’ve never suffered after flying, used to live in Cyprus, so a few flights there and back and several long haul flights. My problem is always with my ears and always has been. nothing to do with MS (perforated ear drums, quite often can’t hear properly for a few days)

Alison x

I’ve been abroad a few times aft my initial diagnosis in 2004… Went to Tenerife, Canada, benalmadena and belfast, so varying hours of flights there. However I was fine on all of them, tired on the long haul one but so was the hubbie and once I caught up on the sleep I was fine. I have not been abroad since having my little boy however purely because I have never wanted to take him aboad whilst he is too young to be able to tell me how he feels etc but we are considering a holiday abroad in 2014 so it would be interesting to see how it affects me then especially as my M.S is a little worse now. Like everyone said the only way to find out is to try it hun. Xxx

Thanks for all your replies.

Pleased to hear that there doesn’t seem to be a connection with flying and relapsing. I’m thinking it was now due to the stress I put myself under before I went on holiday, I hate flying and stressed about it for months, so I imagine this wouldn’t have helped!

Anyway, facing my fears and booked the flights


Fizzy x

Damn this has made me worried now, I am getting ready for a 30 hour flight to New Zealand next Christmas! Should I go?

So sorry for putting any doubts in your head. It seems there isn’t a link, just that we may be more tired…that bit I can handle, as I can fall asleep anywhere, including at my desk this lunchtime

Of course you must book your flight to New Zealand, I have booked mine to Canada and If I had the chance of going to NZ at Christmas, I would go too.

Fizzy x