Medical & HealthNews and debate about medical and health issues as they relate to aircrews and aviation. Any information gleaned from this forum MUST be backed up by consulting your state-registered health professional or AME.
The reason why this is an argument is that "Head Cold" is too broad a term...
As I'm sure we've all experienced there are a variety of symptoms from a runny nose through aches/pains/headache, raised temperature or fever, catarrh, blocked eustachian tubes, earache and varying degrees of malaise; being human we are all different in our response/symptoms to each cold we get.
Every Pilot, before every flight, needs to address the IMSAFE mnemonic and as part of that ask themselves if fit to fly.... minor symptoms at the start and end of a head cold may not be a problem but fever, general malaise and blocked or infected eustachian tubes/ears will almost certainly require the pilot to postpone/cancel.
Recently I woke up with a 'head cold' and it was nothing out of the ordinary. Slight headache, feeling a bit under the weather but nothing major. I got a shower, got dressed, got my flight bag together and then decided it wasn't a good idea to fly in case I deteriorated. Three hours later I was lay on the floor, wondering "What the hell just happened?", unable to get myself up. It took me a total of two weeks to recover but only a matter of hours to go from 'fit' to incapacitated. I'm glad I didn't fly that day.
regarding flying with a head cold, I can assure you that your sneeze would have to have enough thrust to over come the weight of the pilot...and flights dependent upon sneeze thrust would be of very short duration.
I'm afraid that most people do come into work with a range of no fly illnesses, because of the threat of an HR meeting. 3 times in a year and your in front of a load of people from head office, some of whom no nothing about our job.
This is of course is the whole point, subliminal pressure to just get the job done regardless of any safety ramifications. I'm in bed now with bad stomach pains and therefore won't be doing this mornings flight. And will thus have to phone in ASAP and explain myself. A meeting will ensue called a "fact finding" where they will eventually get round to threatening you in one way or another.
The problem with 'head colds' is that you don't know that your Eustachian tubes are not functioning properly until you descend from altitude and you get massive ear/sinus pain which is at best distracting and at worst incapacitating. The only resolution is to go back to altitude and try and clear your ears on the way down.
Partly because of the issue of inability to clear the eustachian tubes.
To a greater extent however because of what I know a cold (of any description) does to my ability to concentrate on difficult tasks. For the same reasons, I try when I have a cold to avoid the hour drive to the office/airfield and instead will try and work from home (also to avoid giving it to anybody else, particularly if they might be flying). A cold degrades my driving and flying.
My (non-flying) hobby is martial arts; an hour in the dojo when I have a cold illustrates painfully well what it does to my ability to perform under stress; there however I can just sit out, in the air it might kill me. Worse, it might kill somebody else.
Anybody who works for me and turns up with a cold gets sent home. I don't want it, nobody else who flies wants it.
Location: In some hotel downroute or in some hotel doing union negotiations.
Nearly lost my ability to hear anything due to a barotrauma with a sudden headcold (didn't feel it before the flight, first signs during descent). The valsavala manouver doesn't help in all cases, neither does chewing gum.
Since then on the first sign of a cold i show up at my MD and he will take me off the schedule for at least a week, usually two to be sure everything is ok again. Now, sick days are payed over here and you can't get fired over being sick, employment protection is very high which gives total confidence in rather taking a few more sick days than not enough.
Agree entirely with above! Take a minimum of five days without flying now for a full blow head cold. Made the mistake once and once only. A few years ago I got caught in the descent and trust me the pain was unbearable (much worse than the broken bones I have suffered in previous years). It was a huge lesson learnt. Also you have to think about your colleagues who don't want to sit in a confined space with you for 8-10 hours with a cold which they know will result in them having to take time off too.