Many people complain that they have ear problems during fights. It’s very normal to have ear problems during flight because of the pressure changes during flight. Generally, these changes don’t cause a lasting trouble but in few cases who have persisting problems might land up with an ear trouble which is Airplane Ear.
It’s also known as Otitis Barotrauma / aerotitis media.
Why does Airplane ear happen?
There’s a disparity between the middle ear pressure and air pressure in an environment which leads to pressure on the eardrums. It happens more during ascent or descent in flights. These fast changes in the environment of the airplane are not adequately compensated by a eustachian tube of our body which is responsible for equalization of middle ear pressure.
What are the symptoms of Airplane ear?
Symptoms might be mild or severe.
Milder symptoms include:
- Mild discomfort in the ear
- Feeling of fullness or heaviness in the ear.
- Ear blockage.
- Muffled or reduced hearing.
Severe symptoms include:
- A severe earache
- Moderate or severe hearing loss
- Tinnitus or ringing sensation of ear
- Bleeding from ear
How to deal with airplane ear?
- Firstly if you have a cold or flu they avoid traveling. At times its unavoidable and in such circumstances take precautions.
- Yawn or swallow to relieve pressure from the ear. Since yawning or swallowing opens the eustachian tube and helps in relieving pressure from the ear.
- Avoid sleeping during take-off and landing of flights.
- Use earplugs designed to reduce the pressure changes in ear
- Use nasal decongestants and flu medication half an hour before the flight.
- Take medication for allergy, hay fever, sinusitis, middle ear infections etc.
Precautions for children:
Eustachian Tube of children is more narrow and horizontal which leads to more chances of suffering from Airplane ear. So special precautions should be taken to avoid it.
- Give them something to swallow like a pacifier or chocolate or chewing gum or drinks by straw etc.
- Decongesting agents to be given in half hour before the flight.
- Encourage them to stay awake.
- Keep them occupied and in an upright position.