Certain medications are not safe to be used at all while flying and others require a reasonable waiting period after use.Pilots, in discussion with their physician, should consult available aeromedical resources to understand potential flight hazards associated with any medications being taken, such as whether the underlying condition the medication is being taken for makes flight unsafe, or to understand side-effects that may be unnoticeable before flight but could impair the ability of a pilot to make sound decisions.Drugs that cause no apparent side effects on the ground can create serious problems with only moderate increases in altitude.Even for general aviation pilots flying at relatively low altitudes, the changes in concentrations of atmospheric gases, including oxygen and nitrogen, in the blood can enhance the effects of seemingly innocuous drugs and result in impaired judgment, decision-making, and performance.In addition to the Basic Med rules, pilots taking medication must also comply with existing Federal Aviation Regulations, such as the self-grounding requirements of FAR 61.53 and FAR 91.17’s prohibition on operations while using any drug that has effects contrary to safety.AOPA’s online medical education course will include medication considerations when evaluating your fitness to fly.
Find out the FAA’s position on medications in this database compiled by the AOPA Pilot Information Center.
For other pulmonary conditions such as asthma, the FAA approves the use of inhalers, including Proventil, Azmacort, Becanase, or Vancenase, on a case-by-case basis, based on a review of the history of symptoms.
Many antihypertensive and cardiac drugs may also be allowed, case-by-case.
Some of the most commonly used OTC drugs, antihistamines and decongestants, have the potential to cause some of the most noticeable side effects and may well be disqualifying as a result.
The symptoms associated with common upper respiratory infections, even a bad cold, will usually suppress a pilot's desire to fly, and treating symptoms with a drug that causes side effects only compounds the problem.