“Hey Doc – What do I need to do to keep passing my FAA medicals and continue to earn a living?”
I am asked this question numerous times per week. Most of the pilots asking the question are just beginning their aviation careers and want it to be a long term one. My usual answer usually starts with – “Be blessed with good genetics, and be just plain lucky!” (just kidding) Older pilots begin asking the question after a coworker drops dead or is diagnosed with cancer. My real answers are based on common sense: eat clean food in moderation, exercise daily, keep weight down, get routine bloodwork (to include inflammatory markers), and screening exams (mammogram colonoscopy/Cologard/skin check, etc., avoid vices (excess alcohol or nicotine). I also recommend stacking the deck in your favor by taking a quality supplements such as Vit D, magnesium, multivitamins, etc.
Last, but not least, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression. All to often, I hear the story about the pilot “that had it all going for them” commit suicide. I have access to therapists and councilors that work with pilots all the time – you don’t have to be alone! If you know a pilots that is struggling – reach out to them or the Chief Pilot. Its not worth them dying over. In the case that you are concerned about their mental health and aviation safety, file an anonymous report with the FAA hotline. Don’t be afraid to schedule a consult to determine the course forward.