Tips to relieve ear pain when traveling by plane


Traveling by plane can literally become a headache. It is that on many occasions the flight can cause great discomfort, especially in the region that includes the nose, throat and ear.

"Under normal conditions, the air pressure inside the aircraft cabin is equivalent to what we find when we are outdoors at a height of 1,500 to 2,500 meters above sea level. Pressure changes between outside and inside of the cabin can cause a sensation of pressure inside the ears or on the face, since the cavities of the skull, such as the paranasal sinuses and the middle ear, expand up to 25%, "explains the otolaryngologist Stella Maris Cuevas.

Colds, allergies, repeated infections and symptoms of sinusitis can cause secretions and edema (swelling) and block the air passage. This can get caught in the middle ear or in the sinuses. This is known as barotitis media (ear involvement) or barosinusitis (baro means weight and, hence, pressure).

In these cases, the passenger will experience the sensation of blocked ears or facial pain, which can get worse during the ascent and descent of the plane, says Cuevas, who is an expert in smell and former president of the Association of Otolaryngology of the City of Buenos Aires .

These discomforts, says the doctor, can be relieved with the well-known Valsalva maneuver (blowing with a blocked nose and mouth) swallowing, yawning or chewing gum.

On other occasions, the turbulence that appears during the flight can cause some instability or dizziness. The passenger can know these contingencies and take precautions before their trip. If you suffered it on another occasion, you can consult the specialist, who will indicate the appropriate medication to take before the flight and thus make it more pleasant.

Babies also suffer from this discomfort. Many times, crying is your way of expressing your discomfort. The pain in the ears (called otodynia) appears due to an alteration in the function of the eustachian tube, a tube-shaped structure that extends from the eardrum to the pharynx. It is usually closed and opens when swallowing saliva. That is why it is recommended that, during the ascent and descent of the aircraft, saliva production be stimulated to relieve pressure differences. The best way to achieve this is by breastfeeding, because the suction mechanism relieves discomfort, another advantage of breastfeeding.

Source: Clarín newspaper.

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