Family Health : How to Avoid Painful Ear Popping on a Plane


You have painful ear popping when you fly.
My name is Beverly Bitterman. I’m an ARNP and health and wellness consultant and I’m
here to give you some tips and strategies to make your flight more comfortable. The
first thing you should know is that you want your ears to pop when you’re on the airplane.
What that does is equalizes the pressure between your inner ear and your the outside of your
body. And, that’s a good thing. It hurts because there’s some swelling in the tube that connects
your inner ear to your nose. So, what we want to do is do things that will open up that
tube. Some simple things you can do are chewing gum. That’s a great thing to do when you’re
taking off and landing. Usually, the problem is worse on landing. Although, sometimes taking
off. And, other things that keep your jaw moving. You can even just move your jaw. Open
your mouth really wide and you hear that crackle back there. That’s a good thing that can help
open up that Eustachian tube. If you’ve had a cold or if you are congested or have allergies
or something like that, you might need to do a little bit more. Sometimes, if you’re
quite congested you may want to take a medication like pseudoephedrine. You buy this from the
druggist. You don’t need a prescription, but you do have to sign for it. I prefer the short
acting variety, the thirty milligram tablet. And, I advise taking it about half an hour
before you get on the plane and about every four hours after that until you’ve landed.
That helps decrease congestion and open up that tube. If that isn’t enough, you can add
some nasal spray. A decongestant nasal spray. A puff in each nostril is a good way to also
get to the back or the opening of that tube in the back of your nose and help open things
up. If you have still a bad pain, another strategy the stewardess can help you with
is to give you a cup and some hot water and you take your napkin. You put it in the bottom
of the cup. You put the hot water on the napkin and then you take that and you hold it on
your ear. And, that actually lets some steam some moist heat get onto your ear and it feels
really good. If you’re still having difficulty or you’ve got a child with that problem, then
you might want to see your doctor. Because, they can order some drops that will help decrease
pain with flying. This is Beverly Bitterman, ARNP and good travels to you.

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