Traveling by Airplane

Useful advice for traveling without causing trouble to your ears

Why do my ears hurt whenever I travel by airplane?

Pain in the ears when traveling by airplane is usually due to the fact that the air -pressure in the inner ear is less than the air pressure in the cabin, so the inner ear needs to be re-supplied with air in order to bring the two in equilibrium. This may cause a tightening pain in the inner ear, dull sense of hearing or a sense of blockage of the ear canal.

To deal with it, the Eustachian tube, through which the air passes on its way to the inner ear, needs to be opened and this can be achieved by swallowing, yawning and chewing. The Eustachian tube may also be blocked due to a cold or an infection of the throat, so it is recommended to stay hydrated since in the case of dehydration the mucus of the nose and the Eustachian tube become sticky.

Some people’s Eustachian tube does not open as easily as others’, so pressure cannot be equated efficiently. A good way to deal with such cases is to apply the Valsalva maneuver, which is accomplished by shutting the nose and mouth while exhaling at the same time from the nose. No air will come out but the ears will “pop” when the pressure gets balanced. This practice is not helpful to young children because their Eustachian tube is not fully developed.

Why does my hearing diminish after landing?

The ears still feel clogged even after landing if the pressure in the inner ear has not been equated to the ambient air pressure. This can be avoided by issuing a nasal spray twice in each nostril before landing. If symptoms persist it is recommended that you visit a doctor.

Can I travel if I have a cold?

Someone who is traveling while suffering heavily from a cold faces a growing risk of causing damage to the inner ear, so if possible, it would be best to postpone any journey. If you have to travel while sick with a cold, there are nasal sprays that can help relieve your nose and can be used one hour before landing. But they should be used sparingly, as their use over many days can actually cause congestion in the nose.

Can I travel if I have a ruptured eardrum?

When you have a ruptured eardrum, the air pressure in the inner ear will be more easily balanced with the ambient air pressure. This is because the air passes more easily through the drum hole. Therefore, you may not feel much discomfort.

Can I wear my hearing aid while traveling?

If you are using a hearing aid, it can function normally in the airplane. However, surrounding noise during take-off can cause discomfort, depending on the hearing aid you are using. You may feel more comfortable if you turn it off and remove it completely. Before boarding, it is recommended that you inform a flight attendant that you are using a hearing aid.

Can my tinnitus be aggravated by the flight?

Many people find that their tinnitus is muffled by the sound of the airplane’s engine, to the point of being imperceptible. However, tinnitus may become worse if the Eustachian tube is blocked. This can be amended by clearing your ears. If you are worried that the engine’s noise can damage or aggravate your tinnitus, it can help if you select a seat towards the front part of the airplane, away from the wings.

How soon can I travel after an ear surgery?

If you have had any surgery done in your ear, it is very important to ask your ENT doctor if it is safe to travel. Some experts advise avoiding flying until six weeks after surgery.

Do earplugs help?

Special pressure-adjusting ear-plugs made of medical-grade silicone, which slowly allow the ears to get used to the pressure difference, can help. Ask akouson for the Pluggerz earplugs.

If you find that your hearing perception has been altered after a flight and has not returned to normality after two weeks, you should visit your ENT.