Flying With an Ulcer

Woman Dropping Antacid into Water

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Almost 10 percent of all Americans experience peptic or gastric ulcers at least once in their lifetime. With ulcers, which are sores that appear along the inner lining of the esophagus, you experience burning, gastric pain as food travels from your throat through this area. If you are flying and you have an ulcer, take all necessary precautions to help make the flight as painless as possible.

Symptoms and Complications

Ulcers are caused when acids in your stomach -- many which come from the foods you eat -- start to eat away your inner esophagus lining, which protects your stomach tissue. Untreated ulcers can lead to serious infections in the abdominal cavity, tissue scarring and internal bleeding. Regularly taking common pain relievers, such as Advil and ibuprofen can cause ulcers. The H. pylori bacterium, which frequently live within the esophagus, also causes inflammation in your stomach. Regular smoking, drinking alcohol and stress are other common risk factors that lead to ulcers.


Treat ulcers before you travel, and take all necessary medications with you. This can include medication that kill the H. pylori bacterium and over-the-counter medication that reduces stomach acid. Antibiotics -- if the ulcers are caused by H.pylori bacterium -- or acid-reducing medicine can also help relieve gastric pains caused by ulcers. Common medications that reduce stomach acid include acid blockers such as Pepcid, Axid or Zantac, all which are over-the-counter drugs you can get at a pharmacy. Pepto-Bismo, another over-the-counter drug, helps protect the tissue lining from acid buildup in your stomach. Carafate or Cyotec, both prescription drugs, also help protect your stomach lining tissue.

Travel Preparation

If you're experiencing serious pain in your stomach due to ulcers, visit your doctor before you travel. She may be able to prescribe effective antibiotics or prescription drugs that protect your stomach lining as well as neutralize acids in your stomach. Take medications with you onto the plane. TSA allows passengers to take medications in reasonable quantities that surpass 3.4 fluid ounces; medication also does not need to be placed in a one quart-sized ziplock bag. Avoid taking pain relievers with ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen, as each will only aggravate your ulcer.

Food in the Plane

If you have ulcers, avoid eating spicy foods, onions, garlic, cured meats and cold cuts, tomato-based foods and seasonings such as pepper in the plane; each of these foods increase stomach acid. Avoid drinks including hot chocolate, whole milk, different types of tea like peppermint, black or green teas and citrus juices Don't drink any alcohol, as alcohol erodes the mucous lining that protects your esophagus.