Many people are planning to take a long trip this summer, and that means going on a flight. But not everyone likes flying, especially those people whose ears hurt during takeoff and landing. What causes that pain and how can you prevent it? Read on to learn how to give your ears a pain-free vacation.

What is causing this ear pain?

When the plane takes off, the air pressure outside your ear decreases, and when it lands, the pressure increases. So, during takeoff the air in your ear pushes out against the eardrum, and when you land the eardrum is sucked inward.

While the Eustachian tubes in your ears normally help equalize the pressure, during takeoff and landing they can’t keep up with the rapid pressure changes. Thus, the pressure changes can cause pain and discomfort.

This pressure can be extra painful for young children because their Eustachian tubes are smaller and might not function as well as they should. While it’s uncomfortable enough to make many babies cry, it’s only a temporary pain.

Is there anything I can do to treat my ear pain?

“There are preventative steps you can take to equalize air pressure during takeoffs and landings,” CEENTA ENT doctor Ross Udoff, MD, said. ““No one wants their vacation to get off to a painful start.”

You can:

  • Drink plenty of decaffeinated fluids during the flight, especially water
  • Swallow or yawn frequently during takeoff and landing
  • Chew gum or suck on a candy (not recommended for children under the age of 3)
  • Give your baby a bottle or pacifier

CEENTA ENT doctor Ross Udoff, MD

Once the air pressure equalizes, the pain should go away. If it last for more than a few hours after landing, though, you should call you or your child’s doctor. Also, for some people these techniques may not work. If you fly frequently and have chronic issues with pressure or pain, your ENT doctor may recommend placing small pressure equalization tubes, Dr. Udoff said.

It is recommended you not fly if you or your child has an ear infection, as the pressure changes could increase the pain or even cause the eardrum to tear. Children with ear tubes, on the other hand, may have less pain because the pressure equalizes more easily.

Takeoffs and landings can be painful, but following these recommendations could help make your flight easier.

Dr. Udoff practices in our Monroe office. To schedule an appointment with him or any of our ENT doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.

Planning a vacation after getting LASIK? Read about some things you should know befrore you travel in this blog.

Adults can get ear infections, too. Learn more here.

We talk about three ways to ease ear pain in this blog.

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