If you experience pain in the ears while landing or takeoff, read this.
There’s no doubt that flight journeys are quick and convenient but not when you experience pain in the ears especially during takeoffs and landings. The unequal pressure which develops on the either side of the eardrums as the plane takeoffs or lands causes the Eustachian tubes (opening between the middle ear and nose) to re-adjust which leads to ear pain. And if you suffer from allergies or sinus problems, the pain might get worse. If you experience shooting pain in the ears while flying, here are quick tips from our expert Dr Ashim Desai, ENT Specialist, Apollo Spectra Hospitals, Mumbai, that might help.
1. Blowing the nose: Known as valsava manoever, it is a simple technique that works by allowing the pressure in the inner ear to equalise with the surrounding air pressure, providing quick relief from ear pain. It involves blowing through the nose as the nostrils are pinched. Repeat the process for a few times to ease ear pain. This helps in gently pushing the air into the Eustachian tube, which also causes the ear to go ‘pop’ as air is pushed into the middle ear relieving ear pain. Also read about how to get rid of ear pain in 15 mins.
2. Yawning and swallowing: It stimulates the muscles to unblock Eustachian tubes while landing. You might have also seen some airlines offer candy before the flight takes off. So the next time you get one, wait till you take off before popping it in. And as for babies, it is advised to feed them or give a drink or a pacifier at the time of takeoff and landing as the act of swallowing helps you to ease ear pain. Have difficulty in swallowing? You must read this!
3. Invest in a decongestant: But before you do so, consult your doctor about the same. Usually, nasal sprays are sprayed every 15 minutes before the flight takes off and 15 minutes before it lands to clear the nose. Decongestants like nasal sprays, drops or pills are recommended. However, if you are in the older age group, then oral decongestants are the best. Here are some things you should never put in the nose.
4. Do not sleep while taking off or landing on the flight: If you are among those who believe that taking a nap during takeoffs and landings is the best way to prevent ear pain, then you are wrong. Instead, staying awake and practising blowing the nose or yawning and swallowing can help you to ease the pain.
5.Take medications or such lozenges: If you can’t bear with ear pain, then taking a painkiller around half an hour before the flight takes off or lands is a good idea. You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but stay away from taking pain relievers that contain caffeine as it can lead to dehydration. Instead of a chewing gum, you can try sucking a throat lozenge or a hard candy as the latter might dry the mouth whereas lozenges can soothe your mouth.
If you are a frequent flier, make sure you consult an ENT specialist to get tested for allergies. Also, if you suffer from cold, sinus or ear infection, avoid taking a flight as it might worsen the infection and rupture eardrums, leading to hearing loss. Hence, always be careful and follow these tips to prevent ear pain on flights. Here are common causes of ear pain everyone should know about.