Dr. Alok Banka

ENT Surgeon
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Medical Tips Before Flying

Health Tips before flying

  • Try NOT to fly with a cold/flu/ear infection, if you can.
  • If its un avoidable, see an ENT doctor before travel, get his opinion.
  • Avoid sleeping when the plane takes off or lands. Sit up while flying on an airplane, rather than lying down.
  • Swallow, yawn, move your jaw sideways, chew gum, and sip fluids while flying on an airplane. Do these actions 3 to 4 times as the plane takes off, and repeat them as it lands. Putting some cotton wool in the ear won’t do any good.
  • Try the Valsalva’s maneuver to clear your ears as the airplane is landing if jaw movements have not worked.(Pinch your nose and close your mouth. Gently push air out as if you are blowing your nose).
  • If you have cold take a decongestant tablet the night before and the day you travel.
  • Use Decongestant nasal spray (NOT drops) like Oxy or Xylometazoline.
  • Take some pain killers with you in your hand bag.
  • If there is severe ear ache, hearing loss, dizziness,nose bleed or headache , see the ENT doctor as soon as you land.
  • If small children, careful in feeding them while on the plane ,feed them in upright position only.

What is Barotrauma?

Normally the air pressure in your middle ear is the same as the air pressure outside your body. Your Eustachian tube (which connects your middle ear to the back of your nose) helps to keep it this way). When you swallow or yawn, the tube, which is normally closed, opens briefly. This lets a tiny bubble of air flow up the tube and into your middle ear.

When you experience earaches while in flight, it is called ear barotrauma. Ear barotrauma is the pain and possible damage to the ear related to pressure inequalities between the outside and inside of the eardrum. Flying causes a change in altitude which causes barotrauma. If you have congestion due to a cold or allergies, you are more likely to experiencing ear pain. Your earache may be dull or throbbing, and sounds may be muffled. There are steps you can take to avoid earaches while in flight.

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