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How to Avoid Ear Pain When Flying

How to Avoid Ear Pain When Flying

Does ear pain when flying give a regular flier like you a cause to worry about? Or, are you worried about experiencing it for the first time in your life? To know more about how to avoid ear pain when flying, read on.
Shrinivas Kanade
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
While reading novels, especially thrillers or those based on war, a phrase such as, "I waited till my ears popped before diving", suggests to us that a fierce aerial or undersea action awaits us in the next few pages. You can get into the same situation of "popping your ears" simply by flying, which is accompanied by ear pain.
Severe Ear Pain While on a Plane
For an air hostess, it is very common to have to deal with passengers suffering from ear pain immediately after takeoff or landing. At both these times, the cabin air pressure changes, leading to the popping of your ears. This could lead to temporary hearing loss or pain, which can aggravate to an acute level. This condition is known as aerotitus, which plagues at least 33% of air travelers. The severity may increase if your Eustachian tubes are clogged because of either ear or sinus infection, or both.
The Eustachian tube leading from the middle ear opens into the throat. It plays an important role in maintaining the air pressure in the middle ear by feeding or draining it of excess air, to keep it at an equilibrium with that of the atmosphere. Sometimes, the Eustachian tube is blocked or smaller/inelastic than what is normal. In such a situation, it cannot cope up with the rapidly changing air pressure inside the airplane. At the time of takeoff, you travel from a high to a low atmospheric pressure. This causes the air trapped inside your middle ear to expand and exert pressure on the eardrum because it cannot escape down the Eustachian tube. At the time of landing, you are traveling from a low to a high atmospheric pressure, which acts on the eardrum and pushes it inwards, causing you pain while flying.
How To Prevent Ear Pain in Flight
Allowing the air to rush in or out of the middle ear through an unobstructed Eustachian tube will relieve you. The best way of achieving this is to try to keep the Eustachian tube clear and working. The following is a list of remedies:
  • You will benefit from postponing your flight if you are suffering from either infected ears or sinuses, allergies, or feeling of a stuffed head. Taking this step may prove a wise decision in case of a middle ear infection and will allow you time to get treated.
  • If you have unavoidable pressing business which makes it necessary for you to fly, ingesting a decongestant may reduce or relieve you partly. Consume a decongestant every 6 hours for 24 hours before and after your flight. The decongestant acts by shrinking the enlarged mucous membrane in your sinuses, ear canal, and especially Eustachian tube, which allows the air to pass more freely.
  • Alternatively, you can use a nasal decongestant spray as soon as or before you get inside the plane, which might clear your sinuses and make your flight an easy one.
  • The simple act of chewing a gum from the moment you get on the plane till you get off will help you keep the Eustachian tube open.
  • Ear plugs are effective in decreasing the pain.
  • About half an hour before landing at your destination, start using the nasal spray every 5 minutes. This will help in keeping the nasal passages open.
  • The swallowing movements of the throat helps in maintaining the Eustachian tube open, so try sucking on sweets during the flight.
  • Avoid sleeping during the flight or wake up before landing and do some swallowing movements to open up the Eustachian tube, which can help you immensely.

You may not believe it, but there are some people who cannot bear the pain and prefer to avoid it by adopting a slower means of transportation. If you do get afflicted with the problem for the first time, pain killers, such as paracetamol, can surly relieve. The ear pain appears to be an insurmountable handicap if you are not prepared in advance to deal with it. However, it is not the whole truth.