Many people feel pressure or a blockage in their ears when they fly, especially during takeoff and landing. While this is usually nothing more than a minor inconvenience that resolves fairly quickly, it becomes a much riskier endeavor if you or your child is flying with an ear infection.
Before you head out to catch your next flight at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, here are a few things you should know about keeping your ears safe while flying with an ear infection.
How Flying Affects Your Ears
Our ears react to the change in pressure that occurs when flying due to being at different altitudes. When cabin pressure changes, the Eustachian tube in our ear equalizes the pressure in the middle ear by opening up to let air in or out. This is why when you swallow or yawn, your ears can pop.
Experiencing symptoms due to a change in air pressure when flying is quite common. It’s estimated that 10% of adults and 22% of children might have changes to their eardrum after a flight.
Risk of Flying with an Ear Infection
When you have an ear infection, your Eustachian tube is more likely to be blocked from excess fluid. This makes it more difficult for your ears to equalize pressure. The pressure continues to build and can cause significant pain, and in certain cases, can even cause the eardrum to rupture.
This may be more likely to happen in children with children as their Eustachian tubes are smaller and more likely to have problems equalizing.
What To Do
Ideally, you shouldn’t fly if you or your child has an ear infection. If you can reschedule your trip for a time when you are better, it’s recommended that you do so. However, if that’s not possible, there are some steps you can take to protect your ears when you have an infection. These include:
- Visit a doctor before your flight to see if any treatment or medication is necessary.
- Take a decongestant or anti-inflammatory to reduce pain and blockage before a flight. Ask your doctor about any medication before taking it though, as decongestants especially may not be safe for people with certain medical conditions like heart disease.
- Drink plenty of fluids while flying
- Chew on gum or suck on hard candy during takeoff and landing
- Avoid sleeping on the flight
For more information on flying with an ear infection or to schedule an appointment, call Spartanburg | Greer ENT & Allergy today.