Sunday, March 28, 2010

Aerotitus - ears pain

When you fly on the airplane it is possible to get a sudden acute ear pain, or even a temporary hearing loss on takeoff or landing. Some people have acute pain in their ears while flying or even experience temporary hearing loss. This condition is called aerotitus and one third of all passengers will experience this ear pain at least once. As the aircraft climbs or descends passengers may experience discomfort or acute pain as gases trapped within their bodies expand or contract. The most common problems occur with air trapped in the middle ear (aerotitus) or paranasal sinuses by a blocked Eustachian tube or sinuses. Pain may also be experienced in the gastrointestinal tract or even the teeth (barodontalgia). Usually these are not severe enough to cause actual trauma but can result in soreness in the ear that persists after the flight and can exacerbate or precipitate pre-existing medical conditions such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

If you have an ear infection, congestion, or allergies you can be more prone to aerotitus. Your Eustachian tubes are already clogged enough and then to add the changes in air pressure of flying can really clog them more, causing great pain. If you have scarring in your middle ear from chronic childhood ear infections your Eustachian tube may be unable to adjust to the changes in ear pressure. The scarring may make the Eustachian tube less elastic or smaller. Maybe this ear pain is why some people hate flying, while it doesn’t bother others.

There are many things you can do to keep your Eustachian tubes working during a flight. Avoid flying if you have an ear infection, congestion, allergies or a stuffed up head. If you can’t avoid it, you can take some steps to make your flight more comfortable and maybe avoid aerotitus ear pain. Take a decongestant every 6 hours for 24 hours before and after your flight. This will shrink the swollen membranes in your sinus and ear canal. You can use a pediatric nasal decongestant spray immediately before you board the plane to shrink the nasal membranes and clear the sinus. Chewing gum during the entire flight, not just on take off and landing, will open up the Eustachian tubes and keep them open. There are also ear plugs available that decrease ear pain during flight. About half an hour before landing you can start to use the pediatric decongestant nasal spray every few minutes to keep nasal passages open.

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