There’s nothing better than spending time with your family during the summer. The only problem? If they don’t live in Cedar Park, TX you may have to join the millions of other Americans at the airport.
You’re probably used to preparing for a long flight by printing your boarding pass at home, bringing enough snacks and packing a few mystery novels. Now you can also bring the knowledge of how to combat airplane ear.
How do you Get Airplane Ear?
Airplane ear, called barotitis media, is the feeling of hearing loss, ear pain and a stuffed up ear many people experience while flying. Airplane ear occurs when there is a change in air pressure within the middle ear; this pressure prevents the eardrum from vibrating. This change usually occurs during take-off and landing. The Eustachian tube is how the ear regulates pressures. The tube connects the middle ear with a small opening at the top of your throat. Since airplanes change pressure without warning, your Eustachian tube often cannot respond quickly enough.
There are a few methods you can try to prevent airplane ear. Yawning and swallowing during take-off and landing helps to activate the muscles that open the Eustachian tube. Chewing gum or sucking on mints can activate those muscles as well. Blowing your nose while pinching your nostrils and keeping your mouth closed is called a valsalva maneuver. If repeated several times, this helps to equalize the pressure within your ears and the airplane cabin. You should stay awake during take-off and landing, this ensures you can utilize these techniques to prevent airplane ear.
Even if you follow all these steps, you may still develop airplane ear. The good news is that it usually will go away on its own, especially when you return to solid ground. If the symptoms do not go away within a few hours or if you are experiencing severe ear pain, tinnitus or vertigo, you should see your local Cedar Park audiologist.