Flying can be an exciting and efficient way to travel, but it can also bring some discomforts such as earaches. The pain is usually caused by changes in air pressure in the aircraft cabin. The following article explains in detail why earaches occur when flying and what you can do about them.
What causes earaches on planes?
- Air pressure: During climb and descent, the pressure in the cabin changes rapidly, which can cause discomfort in the ear.
- Eustachian tube: The Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat, helps to equalise the pressure in the ear. However, if the tube is blocked or not working properly, it can cause pain.
- Sinus infections: If you have a sinus infection or a cold, the blockage can block the Eustachian tube and cause pain.
Preventive measures against earache on planes
- Yawning and swallowing: Swallowing and yawning help to activate the muscles in the Eustachian tube, thus balancing the pressure in the middle ear. Sucking sweets or chewing gum can also stimulate these muscles and provide relief.
- Breathing techniques: Breathing through the nose and slowly exhaling through the mouth during take-off and landing can help regulate air pressure in the middle ear.
- Decongestants: Decongestant medications can help shrink the lining of the nose and throat, making it easier for the Eustachian tube to equalise the pressure in the middle ear. However, it’s important to consult a doctor before taking any medication.
- Special earplugs: Special earplugs with philtres can help regulate air pressure in the middle ear during take-off and landing.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water before and during the flight will keep your body hydrated and ensure that moisture is maintained in the nasal and throat passages, allowing the Eustachian tube to function better.
- Ear drops: Ear drops containing a local anaesthetic can help relieve ear pain during the flight. Be sure to consult a doctor before taking any medication.
- Nasal sprays: Nasal sprays can help unclog sinuses and prevent blockages in the Eustachian tube.
- Avoid sleeping: Sleeping while ascending and descending can cause the Eustachian tube to become blocked and cause pain.
Earache during flight is a common problem caused by changes in air pressure in the cabin. The above tips can help prevent and effectively treat ear pain. If the pain persists or becomes severe, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out an underlying condition. With the right preventative measures, flying can be an enjoyable experience for all.