Ear ache when flying

  • GoodPup

    Posts: 752

    Oct 19, 2008 1:15 PM GMT
    I have had a cold and was almost recovered from it.... so lots of sinus pressure. Then I took a flight to Texas where I am not to visit my brother. The pain was terrible when we landed with the pressure in my ears. That was on Friday... and even now my left ear still feels plugged up like there is fluid in there that moves around as I turn my head.

    Is there something I can do to fix it? Is it gonna be even worse on Tuesday when I fly home?

    I've had minor issues in the past, but now after a few days of it still being weird it seems abnormal.
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Oct 19, 2008 1:57 PM GMT
    JaseinOC saidI have had a cold and was almost recovered from it.... so lots of sinus pressure. Then I took a flight to Texas where I am not to visit my brother. The pain was terrible when we landed with the pressure in my ears. That was on Friday... and even now my left ear still feels plugged up like there is fluid in there that moves around as I turn my head.

    Is there something I can do to fix it? Is it gonna be even worse on Tuesday when I fly home?

    I've had minor issues in the past, but now after a few days of it still being weird it seems abnormal.




    I think it can be treated in some way. You should ask a doctor.

    That happened to me once, and the pain was almost unbearable. I thought I would have to see a doctor, but I recovered in a few hours. If you have to fly again so soon, I would consult a doctor.
  • GoodPup

    Posts: 752

    Oct 19, 2008 2:13 PM GMT
    yeah... have had the problem for a few hours long ago. never thought the earache and plugged sound could last for 2 or 3 days...?
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    Oct 19, 2008 2:30 PM GMT
    I always develop ear pressure and sometimes pain when a plane is descending. I've learned to "power yawn" as a way to break the pressure imbalance, which I must do several times as the altitude decreases. Other people chew gum. A cold can make the problem much worse.

    If I don't pay attention to the plane's descent, maybe from reading, and wait too long, then equalizing the pressure in my ears becomes much harder to do. The problem may last for a few hours on the ground. The trick for me is to anticipate the change. In your case you may now need to see a doctor for such a persistent problem.

    If it hasn't cleared by your Tuesday flight, try the yawning method when your plane reaches cruising altitude, when cabin pressure will be at its lowest. Also take a decongestant starting the day before.
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    Oct 19, 2008 4:13 PM GMT
    hold your breath and blow out while stamping the foot on the side that the ear is feeling plugged. Also try yawning - it opens the eustachian tubes in your mouth to your ears and therefore equalises pressure on both sides of the eardrum I've had the same problem as you before. Also try pouring warm olive oil into your ear (weird sounding i know - but it works!)
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    Oct 19, 2008 4:24 PM GMT
    Same thing happened to me flying back from London in November 1999. What cured it? Time. The ear became unblocked after about 5 days.
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    Oct 19, 2008 4:46 PM GMT
    If this lasts more than a week you should consult your doctor. It might be an ear infection. In the meantime, you need a solution for the day of your flight.

    About 20-30 minutes before the plane begins its descent, spray Afrin in each nostril twice. (Ask the flight attendant ahead of time what time the descent wil start.) It's an over the counter decongestant and as a spray it really targets this area well. During the descent, hold your breath and push air into your head at the same time--as if you're forcing air into your ears from inside your head. When I do this my cheeks puff out--I look ridiculous, but it works so I don't care. Go hard on this until you can't bear it. It probably won't work the on the first breath you hold and push. So repeat until you feel a break in the pressure, like a popping. You'll have to keep doing this throughout the descent. Between the Afrin and the pressure from within, the pressure in your ears will adjust to the pressure in the cabin.

    You can do the Afrin and pressure trick right now, too, while you're on the ground to releve the unbalance in your ear. Just wait about 5 or 10 minutes after the Afrin to start the pressure.
  • GoodPup

    Posts: 752

    Oct 19, 2008 4:56 PM GMT
    I tried all that yawning, gum chewing, holding my breath and making pressure stuff..... none of it worked. the pain was horrible still during the descent.

    I'll try some of those other suggestions though. will do the decongestant and check out the afrin thing.

    I've had some minor problems as a kid... never anything this horrible.
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    Oct 19, 2008 5:03 PM GMT
    JaseinOC saidI tried all that yawning, gum chewing, holding my breath and making pressure stuff..... none of it worked. the pain was horrible still during the descent.

    I'll try some of those other suggestions though. will do the decongestant and check out the afrin thing.

    I've had some minor problems as a kid... never anything this horrible.


    You may indeed have a chronic problem with your eustachian tubes, as already suggested here, and should get a medical consult. This flying problem may have revealed an underlying health issue that needs correcting.

    In the short term, you may have to tough it out, and try the self-help suggestions here, which may or may not give you some relief. I wish you the best.
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    Oct 19, 2008 5:44 PM GMT
    Yeah, I had the same problem one time on a flight from Pittsburgh to San Diego. My ears felt like they were going to burst, and when I landed at Lindbergh Field, it didn't get better. One ear was clogged for a couple of days.
    So when I fly now and feel the pressure in the cabin changing during a descent, I chew gum vigorously. AND I MAKE SURE I TAKE A NASAL DECONGESTANT AHEAD OF TIME.
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    Oct 19, 2008 8:44 PM GMT
    seapower said

    About 20-30 minutes before the plane begins its descent, spray Afrin in each nostril twice. (Ask the flight attendant ahead of time what time the descent wil start.) It's an over the counter decongestant and as a spray it really targets this area well. During the descent, hold your breath and push air into your head at the same time--as if you're forcing air into your ears from inside your head. When I do this my cheeks puff out--I look ridiculous, but it works so I don't care. Go hard on this until you can't bear it. It probably won't work the on the first breath you hold and push. So repeat until you feel a break in the pressure, like a popping. You'll have to keep doing this throughout the descent. Between the Afrin and the pressure from within, the pressure in your ears will adjust to the pressure in the cabin.


    Seapower is right. I recently had an ear infection and both my doctor, and the guy I'm seeing (who is an Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeon), recommended this same technique. Except they recommended getting the 4-hour nasal decongestant, treating 20-30 minutes before the take off and landing, and also using it like crazy during the take off and landing. Put your head back and spray it until you can taste it, they said. I did it and it worked.
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    Oct 27, 2008 12:39 AM GMT
    If your ear drums burst etc, you can actually ask the flight attendents for somethings to help it. I've been told what it is, but I currently can't recall. I also find yawning and moving my jaw frequently also helps.

    I've encountered this problem on numerous occasions (all when I've flown Qantas, for some reason it doesn't happen on other airline) and each time it has occurred I haven't been able to hear out of my ears for at least 12 hours to 3 days. If you go to your local chemist/drug store you can purchase basic ear drops which should make your ears fine within a day or so. If these don't work/aren't strong enough go see your doctor and they'll give you a prescription for a better one.
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    Oct 27, 2008 12:59 AM GMT
    What happens is the four sinuses in the head all drain into the nasal cavity. When there is an excess of fluid it can block the nasal cavity and create irritation through infection.
    The Eustachian tube is connected to the nasal cavity. This is what creates pressure equilization in the middle ear. If there is infection, fluid can builup in the middle ear which in turn can do quite alot of damage.
    Go to a doctor.
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    Oct 27, 2008 1:12 AM GMT
    It's not unusual with congestion to have that kind of intense pain, and then feel like you're underwater for up to 4/5 days afterwards. Been there done that.

    Seapower is right on with the Afrin. But I'd suggest going all the way and doing a combo of Afrin, Sudafed (or any generic pseudo ephedrine hydrochloride), and Ibuprofen. Note that while you don't need a prescription to buy psuedoeph, you will need to show ID at the pharmacist to get it now. Most drug stores have a little paper slip on the shelf that you take to the pharmacy counter. With the Afrin and the pseudoeph, you'll be doing the best non-prescription chemistry to drain and dry out your sinuses -- but you may still have problems, given you've already had the issue. The Ibuprofen is just to knock down the pain and inflamation to less killer levels.

    One warning -- use the Afrin for the flight only. That stuff will rip up your sinuses something fierce with repeated use.

    Good luck!

    PS You should keep this 3 drug combo in your carry-on travel bag at all times, along with Excedrin PM to sleep on long flights, and Cialis, just in case you meet someone interesting on the trip ;)
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    Oct 27, 2008 1:25 AM GMT
    hold your nose and blow when you feel the pressure.

    chewing gum while flying also helps
  • GoodPup

    Posts: 752

    Oct 27, 2008 3:38 AM GMT
    I got home okay... luckily, the day before my flight I was feeling better. after 5 days I finally got full hearing back and didn't have that plugged up feeling. so before the flight I took a decongestant and kept chewing, swallowing and stuff.
    none of that worked on the flight there... but I think I was still sort of suffering from my congestion from the cold.
    so no problems coming home.
    thanks for the suggestions.
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    Nov 02, 2008 12:16 PM GMT
    Just thought you might be interested to know ... I had a flight a few days ago and experienced some problems with my ears. I went to a chemist shortly after my flight arrived and they recommended;

    1. a nasal spray which they said to use when I started experiencing the pain.

    2. Cold and flu tables, they said to administer the recommended amount (usually 1 or 2 tables, depending on the brand) approximately half an hour before I boarded the plane.

    3. Ear Plugs - these seemed the least effective, but the chemist staff remained quite adamant that they would offer some form of relief.
  • GoodPup

    Posts: 752

    Nov 02, 2008 4:30 PM GMT
    Thanks dude... now I know to better prepare myself if I am flying with some congestion. I've had minor aches before... but nothing like the hell that recent flight was. It was the most pain I think I have EVER had. Well... not as bad as the surgery I had where the anesthetics didn't work... haha! but it was up there. LOL
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Nov 03, 2008 1:43 AM GMT
    ear candle.......