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Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2004
Total Posts : 422
   Posted 8/14/2010 7:11 AM (GMT -7)   
I don't like to fly.  Even before my CD, it made me anxious.  But I do like to travel so...Catch 22.  I've only flown for fun a couple of times.  Most of the flights I've been on have been work-related.  But even then,  I would guess I've flown less than 10 times in my life.  So I'm not a frequent flyer.
Last week (work related) I flew for the first time since going into my first major flare.  I downed a bunch of anti-D before getting on the plane.  I did OK but it was just a 2 hour flight.  But the whole time I was anxious about "what if" I have an urgent spell and needed to get to the bathroom?
I worried about that trip for 2 MONTHS.  Which, of course, the stress of the worrying just made my CD symptoms worse.  When I got back to work I found out they want me to attend another conference 2 months from now.  Ugh!!!  In this economic time, I don't really want to say NO...and the part of my brain that pretends I DON'T have CD really wants to go because it's a place I've never been before so I'd like to take advantage of my company sending me and spend a few extra days while there playing.  But I'll have to fly again and this time it'll be a 5 hour flight.
So my questions for you guys:
Are any of you frequent flyers and how do you handle the bathroom situation if your symptoms kick in 35,000 feet in the air?  I don't know what "the rules" are about getting up to go to the bathroom.  I know you're not suppose to get up during the beverage service or whatever but umm....what if you REALLY have to go?  If before or during a flight I start to KNOW I'm going to have a spell, should I tell a flight attendant my situation?  She I tell someone BEFORE boarding? And what are the bathrooms like on a plane?!  I've never been daring enough to go in one.  I know that sounds stupid but I'm claustrophobic and I guess I always think about airplane bathrooms as small tin cans.  I wonder what the lock is like.  OMG...see?  I worry about every little detail! tongue
Diagnosed in October, 2004 at age 32 (misdiagnosed with IBS in 2002)
Current Rx's: Imuran; Colazal; Librax; multivitamin; Probiotic; Omega-3 Fish Oil; V-D; Cranberry pills; Slow Fe 
Secondary conditions: swelling ankles, extreme fatigue, mouth ulcers, joint pain
Previous/occasional Rx's: Prednisone, Flagyl, Levaquin, Xifaxan, Carafate
4/7/09: Gall bladder removal laproscopic surgery (gall stones)

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 8/14/2010 7:26 AM (GMT -7)   
First off relax, you are not alone with your fears. I have to take a low dose of Xanax whenever I fly, that helps with all the anticipatory anxiety (what if) you are having. I also always sit as close to the bathroom as I can. Generally there is a bathroom up front and in the back. I tend to always sit in the rear of the plane, and the bathroom is right there, so I worry way less. Hope those tips help a little. Hugs!
Gail*Nanners* Co-Moderator for Crohns Disease 
Crohn's Disease for over 34 years. Currently on Asacol, Prilosec, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain, Zofran, Phenergan, Probiotics, Calcium, Vit D, and Xanax prn. Resections in 2002 & 2005. Also diagnosed w/ Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, & Anxiety. Currently my Crohns is in remission, but my joints are going crazy!
*Every tomorrow has two handles.  We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith"*

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 440
   Posted 8/14/2010 8:37 AM (GMT -7)   
I'm so much like you in this category. Flying! aaahhhhh.....I hate it but I need to do it!
I've flown...plenty of times, but in 1994 I decided to stop. Had a really bad flight, emergency landing, fire trucks on the ground, etc. sooo that was the end for me. Promised myself I wouldn't go through all the anxiety again!
Now years later...Like Nanners, I go with anti anxiety drugs! I'm over it! So worth it. Talk with your Dr. and they'll have no problem helping you out I'm sure. We all know that Crohns + Anxiety the worst! Nanners, had no idea there were two bathrooms. I don't know why but I always thought there were one. whew....good to know.
Crohns, Diabetes type 2, Fibro, (Depression and Anxiety..who wouldn't?) Back surgery on herniated L-4 L-5 and S-1. Total of 13 surgerys!

Imran 200 mlg, Asacol, Colestid, Bentyl, Lamotil, Paxil, Amitriptlyne, Nexium, Probiodicts, Vit D, Folic Acid, Lots of Potassium, Fish Oil, up to 6 Immodium a day. Oh, and one Giant Pill holder!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 656
   Posted 8/14/2010 9:23 AM (GMT -7)   
Like you, I hate flying. I tell people that I may be an atheist, but I definitely pray nonstop during takeoffs and landings! My bits of advice: Always make sure that you have an aisle seat, so you can get up and run without having to wake up and climb over other people. Try to sit relatively close to a bathroom (but not so close that you're constantly smelling the toilet chemicals). Carry a change of underwear in your pocket or purse--and maybe wear a pantyliner in case of minor leakage, too. And take whatever anti-D med works best for you. I try not to eat anything before or during the flight. I also bring a thin crossword puzzle book and sudoku book with me to try to keep me distracted when I start worrying. Good luck!

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 222
   Posted 8/14/2010 9:29 AM (GMT -7)   
I think we all have the same worries and I know I prepare myself before hand with the anti d's etc. My flights are usually long haul and 11 hours at a time, but nowadays I never go direct so I have a stop in between some where as well, but I usually take the anti D atleast a couple of hours before I fly and then again after a few hours and I am usually fine, not yet have I had the urgency to go on take off, so I have been lucky!I always watch what I eat before flying, nothing that I know will upset me and probably only small portions at a time too and I always carry a spare set of clothes with me wherever I go, even if its only out shopping just in case!
Michelle 40 years old
Diagnosed with CD 2004 (undiagnosed correctly +- 3 years, wrongly diagnosed with IBS)
Bowel resection 2005
medication: pentasa 500mg , Co-codomol 500mg/32mg codeine
loperamide 2mg (prn - take as many as 10-20 a day)
calcium tablets, multivitamin tablets, Omega 3
Ferrous sulphate(anaemia)
levothyroxine (thyroid)
questran light (3 sachets/day), 3 monthly B12 Injections

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 129
   Posted 8/14/2010 9:54 AM (GMT -7)   
You could let the flight attendants know about your special needs and ask them what they would suggest. I'm sure some of them have had to fly on a bad stomach.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 166
   Posted 8/14/2010 11:07 AM (GMT -7)   
I have flown a lot in my life, and quite a bit since my diagnosis in 2005. I have to say that since my Crohn's became active flying is a lot less fun. First, I try to do daytime flights, after I have had all my morning bathroom activity and before the end of the day when my system is more active also. I make sure to go to the bathroom a lot before I board the plane. I board at the end so that I can use the bigger bathrooms close to the gate at the last possible minute. I eat a little before I fly, because otherwise I feel nauseous, but I eat plain food like white toast so that it doesn't make my system too active. I don't eat on the flight, but I drink a little, either ginger ale or water. Dehydration comes quickly on a plane and makes me feel worse.

If I am having a bad time I let the flight attendants know that I have Crohn's (you may have to explain a little). I warn them that I might have to dash to the bathroom, and I have even gone to the first class cabin in an emergency. They don't love it, but if I have warned them ahead of time they just need a quick, "Remember that I have that disease...I really have to run!" It is absolutely impossible to go to the bathroom during take off and landing, so if you having troubles then I would wear a Depends or something similar in case the need takes you at that moment. I always make sure to go to the bathroom in the plane just before it lands. I ask the flight attendants to give me a heads up just before they put the seatbelt sign on for landing. As Nanners says you can book a seat near the back, so I sometimes go to the bathroom when we land, just before I exit the plane. The flight attendants don't like that much either, but I say the, "Remember I have the disease..." Sometime it is a long walk to customs etc. and there may not be a bathroom until after customs. Lots of walking gets my system going, so I want to be as empty as possible before that walk.

To reassure you, I have never had an accident on a plane. I think that flying actually constipates me a little, so maybe that is a good thing. After the flight I always feel a bit nauseous. It takes my system a couple of days to recover. I drink a lot after flying, because as I said dehydration comes easily and Crohnies get it worse. I would say that you should go for it and not let this DD stop you from advancing your opportunities at work. It will be fine, and you will learn what works for you and what makes it a more comfortable experience. I like Nanners idea of taking something to help your anxiety. If you cannot get that, then I would at least take a couple of extra strength Tylenol to reduce any discomfort you might get. It helps me. Your doctor can help you with any ideas for medication, knowing your own personal situation.

A couple of extra tips: I find that if I am pretty empty I don't spend as much time in the bathroom on the plane. That is good, because people are always waiting to go after you. It is also less smelly!! I try to go during the movie, or at times when most people don't want to get up. As nawlinscate says, an aisle seat is essential. If you have trouble booking this, go early to the airport and explain your situation to the person at the desk. They can usually change your seat assignment.

Good luck and try to enjoy the experience of traveling.
45 years old. Diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn's in April 2005. Hiatus hernia diagnosed in 2008. Had Crohn's under control until March last year when I had a major flare up and ended up in hospital. Diagnosis is now CD and IBS. Getting it under control again.
Currently taking: Salofalk 2000 mg, Calcium and Vitamin D, Matamucil, Yogurt for probiotics, Pregnancy Vitamins for iron etc., Salofalk suppositories as needed.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 166
   Posted 8/14/2010 11:28 AM (GMT -7)   
Sorry to add more, but I forgot to describe the bathroom... If you are claustrophobic it will be a little challenging, I have to be honest. Obviously there are no windows, and it is very small. Usually one wall has a big mirror above the sink, so it seems bigger than it is. However, the locks are good, and they show that it is occupied so no one can get in. I take baby wipes with me, so I can wipe the seat first and my hands after I have left the bathroom. There are usually at least 2 bathrooms on each plane, as well as the first class one at a pinch. For longer flights, like the 5 hours you are looking at, the planes are often bigger and with more bathrooms.
45 years old. Diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn's in April 2005. Hiatus hernia diagnosed in 2008. Had Crohn's under control until March last year when I had a major flare up and ended up in hospital. Diagnosis is now CD and IBS. Getting it under control again.
Currently taking: Salofalk 2000 mg, Calcium and Vitamin D, Matamucil, Yogurt for probiotics, Pregnancy Vitamins for iron etc., Salofalk suppositories as needed.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 832
   Posted 8/14/2010 12:01 PM (GMT -7)   
I fly maybe 1-3 times a year.
When I get on the plain I ask the flight attendant to talk to me and tell them I have Anxiety disorder and CD and tell them I may have to run to the toilet with out warning. They are always super nice and let me use the first class toilet if the others are in use. Airplane toilets are the only public toilets I love. You can do your buisness and nobody can hear you :p

I travel mostly around my hobby so nothing will stop me in that hehe
25 year old female from Iceland.
Diagnosed with : Endometriosis march 2007, Anxiety disorder august 2007, CD/UC they don't know witch October 2008, Autoimmune Hepatitis in July 2009
Medication - Humira, Asacol, Librax, Cipralex and Cerazette.

My wonderful dogs :) ~ ~

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 90
   Posted 8/15/2010 9:45 AM (GMT -7)   
I agree with everyone else - take a change of clothes in your carry on with you - baby wipes a must - all just in case-ers! I do this whenever I go on trips - wether its driving or flying. Wear a pad or pantyliner - I do all the time when I am having you know - a bad day.
Don't eat anything - just sip on water. Bathrooms on the planes are not that bad - do your self a favor - go in to one right away - even if you don't have to GO. just to get yourself fimilliar with the surroundings and eliminate your fear of them. take hand sanitizer with you. and well I must say the toilet tissue isn't the greatest so put some soft stuff in a plastic bag with you if you feel the need. Main thing is STOP WORRYING - CHILL OUT - and yes get some medication for your anxieity if you feel that is the best option for you.
Try taking gravol as well. A lot of people who fly take gravol.
Hope this helps! And hey - ENJOY your flight. It beats driving for triple the time to get to your destination - be thankful you get to fly.
33 yr. old female CANADIAN
dx with UC October 1998
had temp j-pouch: '98-'99
disease free & back to norm: '99-'07
dx. with CD March 2009
Currently taking: Remicade mthly & Imarun

In my next life: I want to be a big beautiful oak tree or something like that... so I can live off of just sunshine and water.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 2527
   Posted 8/15/2010 1:44 PM (GMT -7)   
I also hate flying.  about a yr ago I moved from RI to OR (was a total of about 14 hrs.  I used my Lomotil the night before and ate very little...I was also moving in with someone I met online so talk about extra nerves.  Then come this past holiday season we both took a trip back to RI to be with my family and did the same thing (that time they gave me issues about my humira cooler...tough tho I needed it had the script label called ahead etc).  The trouble was on the way back our lst flight (3 each way) got cancelled at 1st we were going to be stuck in San Fran for 4 days...they ended up  adding flights but we still had to remain in San Fran overnight and so being they dont cover costs for hotels we stayed at the airport and they locked bathrooms overnight (we finally found 1 that remained open) ppl were actually breaking into bathrooms since they couldnt find the 1 that stayed open...go figure
Dx with Crohn's 1987, symptoms as early as 1984.
Temp iliostomy February 2007, reversed June 2007, Ovarian cysts, migraines, allergies (incl food allergies) , oral allergy syndrome (diff than true food allergies), Asthma, Gall Bladder removed 1999, Inguenal hernia 1987

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2004
Total Posts : 422
   Posted 8/29/2010 4:32 AM (GMT -7)   
Thank you, guys, for all this fantastic advice!  I've written down notes of much of what you've said.  I've booked my flight and this time (for the first time) I'm going to sit on an aisle seat.  Yes, I'll be more claustrophobic because either way I lean someone will be sitting there...but at least I'll have a quicker route to the bathroom. tongue

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 48
   Posted 9/4/2010 4:29 PM (GMT -7)   
I fly once or twice a year and get extremely anxious that I'll have to use the bathroom in a hurry. I take Immodium the night before and in the morning that I fly. I also don't eat anything before flying. Of all the times I have flown, I've never had a problem. I know the worrying is a waste of time but, it's hard not to! If you think about it, the only time you really can NOT get up is during take off and landing which really only takes a few minutes!!! If I have to 'go' in a hurry, I can usually hold it for longer than that. I try to open my book to read right when I get on the plane to take my mind off things. I also like non stop flights so that there is only one take off and landing I have to deal with! I also use deep breathing which helps me.

Good luck, relax and enjoy your flight!! :)
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