Ear Pain And Flying

If you are a frequent flyer or just fly occasionally it is quite common to get a sudden bout of ear pain, or even a temporary hearing loss on takeoff or landing. Learn how to avoid this.

If you are a frequent flyer or just fly occasionally it is quite common to get a sudden bout of ear pain, or even a temporary hearing loss on takeoff or landing. Many people have acute pain in their ears while flying. Some people even experience temporary hearing loss. This condition is called aerotitus and one third of all passengers will experience this ear pain at least once.

The causes of this ear pain are due to the rapid changes in air pressure in the cabin of the plane. The air pocket inside the middle ear expand during takeoff and landing and this stretches the eardrum. Air must enter and escape through the Eustachian tube in the ear to normalize the ear drum. The Eustachian tube sometimes has difficulty keeping up with the rapid changes in air pressure during takeoff and landing. The pain can be agonizing when the Eustachian tube can not adapt quickly enough.

There are several conditions that can make this condition worse and more likely to occur.



If you have an ear infection, congestion, or allergies you can be more prone to aerotitus. Your Eustachian tubes are already clogged enough and then to add the changes in air pressure of flying can really clog them more, causing great pain. If you have scarring in your middle ear from chronic childhood ear infections your Eustachian tube may be unable to adjust to the changes in ear pressure. The scarring may make the Eustachian tube less elastic or smaller. Maybe this ear pain is why some people hate flying, while it doesn't bother others.

There are many things you can do to keep your Eustachian tubes working during a flight. Avoid flying if you have an ear infection, congestion, allergies or a stuffed up head. If you can't avoid it, you can take some steps to make your flight more comfortable and maybe avoid aerotitus ear pain. Take a decongestant every 6 hours for 24 hours before and after your flight. This will shrink the swollen membranes in your sinus and ear canal. You can use a pediatric nasal decongestant spray immediately before you board the plane to shrink the nasal membranes and clear the sinus. Chewing gum during the entire flight, not just on take off and landing, will open up the Eustachian tubes and keep them open. There are also ear plugs available that decrease ear pain during flight. About half an hour before landing you can start to use the pediatric decongestant nasal spray every 5 minutes to keep nasal passages open.

This condition of ear pain can also occur while driving in a car or bus. Coming down from a steep mountain quickly with the window rolled up can cause the pressure in the car or bus to change rapidly. Always leave a crack in the window when descending or climbing a steep mountainous grade. If you are prone to these ear pains and are riding a bus with windows that can not be moved, talk to the bus driver and ask him what he does about cabin pressure changes. You can also follow the above steps to avoid ear pressure pain.

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