Flying’s Impacts on Ears
A lot of us have actually felt that odd ear-popping experience when we fly. For kids (particularly babies and young kids), it can appear specifically odd and even frightening initially. However it’s a common, typical part of flying.
This in some cases uncomfortable experience is associated with pressure modifications in the air area behind the eardrum (the middle ear). Usually, the Eustachian tube, a passage that leads from the middle ear to the back of the throat behind the nose, equalizes the atmospheric pressure in the center ear to the outside air pressure by opening and letting air reach the middle ear. When our ears “pop” while yawning or swallowing, the Eustachian tubes are adjusting the atmospheric pressure in the middle ears.
In kids, however, the fairly narrow Eustachian tubes may not function as effectively, particularly if they’re clogged mucus from an ear infection or cold, or obstructed by bigger or swollen adenoids (swellings of body immune system tissue located near the openings of the Eustachian tubes).
Whether you’re flying, diving, climbing up a mountain, and even riding in an elevator, air pressure reduces as you go higher and increases as you go lower. If the pressure isn’t adjusted, the higher air pressure pushes on one side of the eardrum and causes pain. That describes why numerous babies weep during those last couple of minutes of the flight, when the atmospheric pressure in the cabin increases as the airplane prepares to land.
But the pain is just temporary– it will not cause any lasting problems for kids and usually will go away within a few minutes as the Eustachian tubes open to let the atmospheric pressure equalize on both sides of the eardrums.
If your child has an ear infection, your doctor might suggest postponing flying, if possible, until the infection is gone to avoid increased pain and possible rupture, or tear, of the eardrum. In kids who have actually had tubes placed in the eardrums because of ear fluid issues, the synthetic tubes will assist the atmospheric pressure equalize more easily.
Some babies experience ear pain on planes and others do not. A great way to assist avoid it is to have your baby breastfeed, drink from a bottle or cup or suck on a pacifier during departure and landing. (Bear in mind that it’s most safe to have actually baby strapped into her carseat in her own aircraft seat at these times.) Children older than 3 years can chew on gum.
Tips for Easing Ear Pain
Some basic things to try during flight can assist match the air pressure in your child’s ears and remove, or a minimum of decline, ear pain. Have your child:
- Drink a lot of decaffeinated fluids (water is best) throughout the flight. Consuming a lot is crucial, not just due to the fact that it encourages swallowing (that makes the Eustachian tubes open), but likewise due to the fact that airplane air is dry, which thickens nasal mucus, making it more likely for the Eustachian tubes to become clogged.
- Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen about a half hour prior to departures or landings if you know your child has ear pain when flying.
- Chew gum or suck on tough candy (only if your child is over 3 years of ages).
- Take a bottle or pacifier or breastfeed. If you bottle-feed, make sure your baby is sitting upright while drinking.
- Yawn regularly (if your child can do this intentionally).
- Stay awake for departure and landing. During sleep, we don’t swallow as typically, so it’s harder to keep the air pressure in the middle ear equalized.
- Practice a breathing exercise. Older kids and teenagers can practice this workout during a flight’s climb and descent: Take in slowly, then gently pinch the pointer of the nose and exhale through the nose while closing the mouth. Repeat as necessary.
If your child is taking medications that contain antihistamines or decongestants, talk to your doctor about whether to continue them during the flight.
In some cases, a child might continue to have ear pain for longer durations (as much as several hours) if the ears do not “pop.” You can continue to provide your child pain relievers according to the bundle directions up until the pain relieves. If it continues for more than a number of hours, call your doctor for guidance.
With a little persistence and some basic safety measures, however, you can make your next household flight less difficult and more comfy for both you and your child.