How to Treat and Avoid Airplane Ear

August 14, 2015 at 3:03 pm Leave a comment

Airplane ear is the most common medical compliant of airplane travelers and may cause temporary pain and hearing loss.

Follow these tips to help minimize airplane ear:

  • Yawn and swallow during ascent and descent. Yawning and swallowing activate the muscles that open your Eustachian tubes. You can also suck on candy or chew gum to help you swallow.
  • Use the Valsalva maneuver during ascent and descent. Gently blow, as if blowing your nose, while pinching your nostrils and keeping your mouth closed. Repeat several times, especially during descent, to equalize the pressure between your ears and the airplane cabin.
  • Don’t sleep during takeoffs and landings. If you’re awake during ascents and descents, you can do the necessary self-care techniques when you feel pressure on your ears.
  • Reconsider travel plans. If possible, don’t fly when you have a cold, sinus infection, nasal congestion or ear infection. If you’ve recently had ear surgery, talk to your doctor about when it’s safe to travel.
  • Use an over-the-counter decongestant nasal spray. If you have nasal congestion, use a nasal decongestant about 30 minutes to an hour before takeoff and landing. Avoid overuse, however, because nasal decongestants taken over several days can increase congestion.
  • Use oral decongestant pills. Oral decongestants may be helpful if taken 30 minutes to an hour before an airplane flight. However, if you have heart disease, a heart rhythm disorder, or high blood pressure, or if you’ve experienced possible medication interactions, avoid taking an oral decongestant unless your doctor approves.
  • Take allergy medication. If you have allergies, take your medication about an hour before your flight.
  • Use filtered earplugs. These earplugs slowly equalize the pressure against your eardrum during ascents and descents. You can purchase these at drugstores, airport gift shops or your local hearing clinic.

Typically, airplane ear isn’t serious and responds to self-care. A severe case of airplane ear may need to be treated by a doctor. For most people, airplane ear usually heals with time.

Source: Mayo Clinic.com and the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Entry filed under: To Your Health.

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