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Ear Pain when Flying

| June 2, 2012

Earpain when flying is a common phenomenon in passengers, when the plane is taking off and during landing. This occurs due to the changes in atmospheric pressure and is known as aerotitus. This condition causes ear pain which can lead to a temporary hearing loss and can easily turn to an acute ear pain.

The eustachian tube is the tube connecting the middle ear to the back of the throat, this tube is responsible for the equilibrium of the pressure in the middle ear and the external environment. This is achieved by feeding or draining the middle ear of excess pressure depending on the atmospheric pressure. In a situation where there is problem with the eustachian tube, maybe because it’s blocked, smaller or inelastic than normal, inflammated due to infections, it becomes unable to balance the two pressures and this can result to ear pain especially

  • During take off, when you enter into an enviroment with a lower atmospheric pressure, the trapped air in the middle ear is unable to flow out of the eustachain tube, causing it to exert pressure on the ear drum.
  • During landing, when you enter into an environment with a higher atmospheric pressure, it pushes the ear drum inwards, which causes ear pain and you also experience ear pain during the journey.

Prevention of Ear Pain when Flying

  • Postpone your journey if suffering from sinus infection, allergies or ear infection but in a situation where you have a pressing or urgent business meeting to attend, take a decongestant every 6 hours for 24 hours prior to the day of your flight and after that day. The decongestant will shrink the enlarged mucous membrane in your sinuses or ear canal, thereby allowing free passage of air in the eustachian tube.
  • You can also use a nasal decongestant spray before and immediately inside the plane, then about half an hour before landing by spraying every 5 minutes.
  • Chewing gum action will help active the muscles and keep the eustachian tube free. Chew some gum before and during take off and also when landing.
  • Ear plugs are very effective in reducing ear pain when flying.

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Category: Ear Pain

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