Travel Advice - Ear discomfort and flying
During air travel, rapid pressure changes in the cabin are common.
Normally, the ear responds to pressure changes by equalizing the
pressure on each side of the eardrum.
- During sudden, significant pressure changes, as
may be experienced during air travel, the ear’s balancing mechanism (the
Eustachian Tube) may be unable to keep up with the rate of pressure
change, resulting in earache or general discomfort in your ears and
- Significant changes in air pressure usually occur
during takeoff, landing, or while the aircraft is passing through zones
- One way to remedy ear discomfort during takeoff
and landings is to swallow or yawn repeatedly, as these actions may help
equalize pressure in the ear.
- Another technique that works for many is chewing
gum. The act of chewing facilitates swallowing and jaw movement, which
may help equalize pressure on the eardrum.
- “EarPlanes” (a patented, pressure regulating,
earplug) seem to provide relief for many travelers.
- We have tried EarPlanes and have found them
effective for us. EarPlanes cost approximately five dollars a pair
and are recommended for two uses before discarding.
- Be sure to read the manufacturer's directions
for use and any cautions they may describe related to using this
If you have a cold, it may not be safe for you to
fly and you should consult your doctor before doing so. Flying, when you are heavily congested, may
result in severe damage to or rupture of the eardrum.
- If your congestion is minor, taking a
decongestant before the flight may make you more comfortable while
flying. Time the dose so that it will remain in effect during the entire
period that you are airborne.
- As with any medication, discuss taking the
decongestant with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Read the brochure accompanying any medicine to
ensure that its ingredients do not conflict with other medications you
- Avoid talking a decongestant or cold remedy that
has caffeine, as taking caffeine may contribute to
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