How Can I Prevent Ear Pain When I Fly
Ideally, anyone with an ear infection, cold or respiratory infection, etc, should not fly. However, not many people will cancel their holiday trips for this reason. The following may help people who develop ear pain when flying.
- Suck sweets when the plane begins to descend. Air is more likely to flow up the Eustachian tube if you swallow, yawn or chew. For babies, it is a good idea to feed them or give them a drink or dummy at the time of descent to encourage them to swallow.
- Try doing the following: take a breath in. Then, try to breathe out gently with your mouth closed and whilst pinching your nose . In this way, no air is blown out but you are gently pushing air into the Eustachian tube. If you do this you may feel your ears go ‘pop’ as air is pushed into the middle ear. This often cures the problem. Repeat this every few minutes until landing – whenever you feel any discomfort in the ear.
- Do not sleep when the plane is descending to land. If you are awake you can make sure that you suck and swallow to encourage air to get into the middle ear.
The above usually works for most people. However, if you are particularly prone to develop aeroplane ear, you may wish also to consider the following in addition to the tips above:
How To Unblock Ears
- Swallowing can help unplug the ears as it can stimulate the muscles that are responsible for opening the Eustachian tube. The act of swallowing occurs more frequently when you are chewing on some gum or hard candy, so try to chew something during ascent or descent.
- You can also try to pop your ears by this simple maneuver. Inhale some air through your mouth and then try to blow the air out gently while squeezing your nostrils. This will increase the pressure and force the Eustachian tube to open. Some people may feel a small amount of pain during this process however, that should disappear quickly. Repeat this process a few times.
- There are specially designed ear plugs that you can try to help you with this problem. A product called EarPlanes has been made with a special filter that helps quickly equalize changes in the cabin pressure. These ear plugs are very useful for people who have a cold or sinusitis and are more likely to have ears plugged after flying.
- Babies cannot unblock their ears intentionally. You can help by having them feed or suck on their pacifier during take-off and landing. Remember that children are more prone to have airplane ear because of the small size of their Eustachian tube.
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Why Are Some People Affected More Than Others
The Eustachian tube is normally closed but opens from time to time when we swallow, yawn or chew. In most people, just normal swallowing and chewing quickly cause air to travel up the Eustachian tube to equalise the pressure. Some airlines offer sweets to suck and eat when the plane is descending, to encourage you to chew and swallow.
However, the Eustachian tube in some people does not open as easily and so the pressure may not be equalised so quickly. For example, some people may have a more narrow Eustachian tube than normal. Also, if you have any condition that causes a blockage to the Eustachian tube then the air cannot travel up to the middle ear. The common cause of a blocked Eustachian tube is from mucus and inflammation that occur with colds, throat infections, hay fever, etc. Any condition causing extra mucus in the back of the nose can cause this problem.
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How To Get Rid Of Airplane Ears In Children
Children cannot perform maneuvers that adults perform to release pressure in the ear, so you must follow certain methods to help them release the pressure.
- Infants and babies are to be fed with a bottle or a pacifier can be used so that the baby keeps swallowing continuously, which relieves pressure in the ears. It is important to keep them up straight while feeding to prevent choking.
- Older children can be given water to swallow, or they can be given hard candy or gum to swallow continuously.
- Use decongestants 30 minutes before the flight or descent.
Other Ways To Clear Your Ears
Popping your ears isnt your only option. If you have allergies, antihistamines or nasal sprays can help you reduce ear fullness so you dont feel the need to pop in the first place.
And if you always have ear trouble on planes, try using Afrin nasal spray when you board and again half an hour before landing, suggests Dr. Kaylie. Afrin is a powerful decongestant that can open your Eustachian tubes. When used appropriately, just in these settings, it is effective and safe.
The thing about Afrin though, is if you use it regularly for more than three days, it can cause what’s called rebound congestion, and people actually get really hooked on Afrin nasal spray, because if they don’t use it, their nose is so congested, says Dr. Kaylie. So, I recommend if they’re going to use it, just use it for the flight. Don’t use it on a regular basis.
Pseudoephedrine, commonly available as Sudafed, another powerful decongestant, can also help, but check with your doctor first. Sudafed can raise your heart rate and cause problems, especially in people with high blood pressure.
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There Are Great And Safe Ways To Unclog Your Ears After A Flight
An unfortunate side effect that can often come with air travel is clogged ears. Aside from being uncomfortable, it can be inconvenient and a nuisance to arrive somewhere and barely be able to hear. While your ears will eventually unclog themselves, there are safe, natural, and effective ways to get the job done sooner than that.
The problem arises because the middle ear, connected to the outside world via the Eustachian tube and running to the back of the nose, cannot keep up with the pressure changes during the ascent and descent of an airplane. The result is clogged ears, which is an issue that can range from uncomfortable and annoying to extremely painful.
The condition is technically called barotrauma of the ear, or barotitis media. Five percent of all adults and 25 percent of children get clogged ears from flying. Luckily, there are much better solutions than waiting to pop your clogged ears after a flight.
If You’re Flying With Clogged Ears Or Nose
If your ears and nose happen to be blocked from a cold on the day of your flight, you could use an over-the-counter nasal spray about half an hour before take-off and landing to alleviate the pressure. Remember to put it in a clear plastic bag along with other liquid toiletries or medications you may bring with you past the security check.
You could also consider changing your travel plans, if possible. Change your flight or find another form of transportation that will get you there painlessly.
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Get Pressure Equalization Tubes Implanted
Sure, implants may sound severe, but if you suffer from pressure-related ear pain during every flight’s takeoff and landing , you might have Eustachian tube dysfunction. If you have this condition and you’re a frequent traveler, consider asking about pressure equalization tubes implants in your ears.
It’s a simple, ten-minute procedure that helps your ears drain fluid and regulate pressure. The implants last one to two years, and the procedure is typically performed in a doctor’s office.
Pressure equalization tubes, however, are a last resort, as they can lead to ear infections and/or perforated ear drums. If you think you may suffer from Eustachian tube dysfunction, talk to your doctor about the implants and do a cost/benefit analysis.
If Your Ears Continue To Be Clogged After Flying
You don’t have to wait it out. After all, you might just be in town for the weekend and you want to make the most of it, right? You can try the Valsalva or the Toynbee once again, and if those don’t work, try to steam your ears.
Put boiling water in a bowl and create a tent over it with a towel. Place your head inside the tent and inhale the steam to help equalize the pressure in your ear. You can also add a few drops of lavender oil or eucalyptus to reduce the pain.
Airplane ears is not dangerous. But if the ear pain or clogging continues for a long time after your flight, and you can’t make your ears pop, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor.
Have a comfortable journey!
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Use Hydrogen Peroxide Or Olive Oil
Both hydrogen peroxide and olive oil can work to soften and eliminate earwax from the Eustachian tubes. Unlike the other methods, a little bit of preparation and some minor equipment is necessary. Youll need either hydrogen peroxide or olive oil, an ear dropper, and lukewarm water.
To unclog your ears with this method, add the lukewarm water to either the hydrogen peroxide or olive oil in an ear dropper. Then lie down on your side with the ear that is clogged facing up.
Put three to five drops from the ear dropper into your clogged ear and lie still in that position for around five or ten minutes. Now lie in the same position but on the other side with the clogged ear facing down with a towel under your head.
Both hydrogen peroxide and olive oil can work to soften and eliminate earwax from the Eustachian tubes.
This will allow the liquid in your ear plus any earwax to drain and unclog your ear canal. You can sop up any excess fluid in your ear with a cotton ball. If both of your ears are clogged, you can lie on one side first, then continue the process with the other side when youre finished.
Ways To Treat Clogged Ears
There are a lot of different ways to tackle the problem of clogged up ears. Some involve medications, but others you can do with things you likely already have at home.
In some specific cases, you may need to check with a doctor about getting a prescription.
Here are some tips for unclogging your ears. First, you need to determine if the problem is the middle ear, behind the eardrum, or the outer ear specifically the auditory canal, where earwax can build up.
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How To Treat Blocked Ears After Flying Or Airplane Travel
Here are some helpful home remedies and treatment on how you can treat blocked ears.
- One of the things you can do to treat clogged ears is to do some swallowing activities. Swallowing mobilizes the muscles pushing the Eustachian tubes to open. According to some experts, by swallowing hard, you can unclog your ear and free the air that is stuck in your eardrums.
- Yawning can also help you unclog your ears. It is also advisable to stay awake as much as possible during the whole trip since you cannot swallow during your sleep.
- Taking a decongestant pill or nasal spray can also help you avoid clogged ears after your flight. Be sure to take the decongestant or nasal spray an hour before your flight. These things make the nasal membranes shrink and make the ear easily unplugged.
- If you feel pain in your blocked ears, stay calm and relaxed. Slowly take deep breaths and pause to hold your breathing. Pinch your nose and push the air out of your nose, just like blowing your nose when you have a cold. Continue doing this until you feel comfortable and when your ear gets unplugged.
- You can do these simple unclogging tips even during your flight but if the clog is still there even after you try everything, it is best to consult your doctor.
Clogged Ears After A Flight Heres What To Do
Everything was perfect. Our flight to Tokyo was on schedule, the airplane food tasted great, and even the landing was seamless. My dream vacation was finally here! And then it happened: the dreaded clogged ears. If you have ever flown, then you know the feeling. It is like someone pushed little balls of cotton deep into your eardrums, and it is far from pleasant.
When someones ears feel clogged and muffled, their discomfort could range from distractingly mild to unbearably painful. What is worse is that it could last long enough to keep you from fully engaging in your trip, whether it is listening to your co-workers at a business meeting or following along with your tour guides explanations.
Luckily, with our five tips below, you can learn how to remedy your clogged ears after a flight and even prevent it from happening in the future.
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How To Prevent Blocked Ears When Flying
A friend, of mine recently emailed me asking: Any advice on flying with a sinus infection? Im having some ear discomfort also.
Here was my response :
Go now and buy Mucinex Extra Strength . Take that tonight and in the morning . Also buy Nasocort and take as directed. Buy EarPlanes, which are ear plugs that you put in about an hour before landing, when your ears are still clear. They will help prevent pressure build up as you descend. Drink lots of water. If you normally take allergy medicine, be sure to continue that as well. Other people recommend things like Sudafed or Afrin, but I dont recommend these because of the side effects. In my experience, the Mucinex and Nasocort are just as effective without the adverse side effects. Drink lots of water.
Those four things should get you through one flight at least without blocked ears. When you do have ear pressure building up, clear your ears as early and as often as possible. Its harder to do when congested. Sometimes in order to clear my ears I open my mouth wide and look up to the ceiling, trying to yawn. Once I can relax enough to yawn, my ears will clear.
My friend followed my advice and after the flight emailed me the result:
I did okay yesterday. As we started to descend I had a lot of ear pressure, but I was able to pop my ears and I was fine. I cannot imagine the pain I would have had if I hadnt taken the Mucinex and Nasocort. Thank you so much for your help!
How To Prevent Clogged Ears Next Time
The best way to get rid of an ear blockage is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To that end, here are a few tricks to keeping your Eustachian tubes clear on your next flight.
- Take Sudafed or your preferred decongestant one hour before your flight to thin the mucus in your sinuses.
- Open up your Eustachian tubes by using nasal spray both before you board and 45 minutes prior to landing.
- Wear earplugs to relieve air pressure mid-flight.
- Chew gum, yawn, and suck on hard candy when you are taking off and landing.
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How Come My Ears Hurt On A Plane
If you have ever been on a plane journey, you’ll know that by the time the pilot announces that the plane has begun its descent to your destination, your ears will have already given you this message. They start to feel a bit odd, either feeling blocked or painful.
It’s all due to pressure changes. As the plane starts to lose height, the pressure in the air around you changes. Until the pressure inside the tubes behind your eardrum adapts, the pressure inside and outside your ear is different. This pushes the eardrum in, stretching it and giving you pain.
Don’t Risk A Ruptured Eardrum
If you are very sick with a cold, the flu, allergies or congestion, you could consider changing your travel plans if possible. Your fellow travelers will appreciate one less sick person spreading germs around the planes cabin, and your illness can cause a blockage in the Eustachian tube, preventing the necessary equalization of pressure. A ruptured eardrum or severe infection can occur which can cause hearing loss or permanent ear damage.
See a hearing healthcare professional if your hearing doesnt return to normal within several days post-flight. If you don’t have a regular hearing healthcare professional, check out our directory to find hearing clinics near you.
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Relieve Pain And Pressure With Steam
Most peoples ears feel clogged but does not hurt. The unlucky ones, however, will experience pain with their clogged ears. In this situation, carefully place your head over a pot of gently boiling water. Then, hang a clean towel over your head to help create a tent over the pot. This will help accumulate the steam directly to your ears, which will loosen the tightness in your ears. As an added step, add a few drops of lavender oil or tea tree oil into the pot of water. The essential oils serve as pain relievers.
Are There Any Complications
Complications are extremely unusual, or millions of people wouldn’t be flying on a regular basis. Very occasionally, the eardrum can be put under so much pressure that it bursts , leaving a hole in the eardrum. If this does happen, the pain usually goes away immediately. Perforated eardrums usually heal well without any treatment.
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