Tips on Trips: Alleviating Ear Problems When Flying
Many people have problems with their ears when flying, especially on landing and takeoff. To make air travel more comfortable, hearing specialists suggest:
- Chew gum, suck on candy or yawn vigorously during the descent, to stimulate swallowing and equalize pressure in the middle ear.
- We swallow less when asleep, so children often wake up crying when the plane begins to descend due to the uncomfortable build-up of pressure in their ears. Parents can prevent their child’s discomfort by waking them at the start of the descent.
- Place a pacifier or bottle in an infant’s mouth during take off and landing, to encourage him or her to swallow.
If possible, avoid flying when you have an allergy attack, sinus infection or a common cold. The uncomfortable "plugged up" feeling, caused by the swelling of the mucus linings, is aggravated by dramatic changes in cabin pressure, and you may experience extreme discomfort or pain.
If you continue to experience discomfort, consult an ear specialist as you may have an ear infection.