why does my ears hurt when i fly

Megan Davids, an investment analyst from Cape Town, told Health24 about her experience on a recent flight:
"I was so caught up in conversation with my friend next to me that my trusty tricks were totally forgotten, and just as the airplane was gaining altitude after taking off, the most excruciating pain started piercing my ears, escalating second by second. And just when it felt like my ears were about to rupture the air pressure in the airplane stabilised. " Rapid change in air pressure explains barotrauma as a condition where there is inflammation of the middle ear, causing severe pain. When the air pressure in the airplane cabin changes rapidly during take-off and landing, it causes painful pressure in your ear. It hurts because your ears cannot adjust quickly enough to the change in air pressure, trapping air and fluid in the middle ear. Under normal circumstances the air pressure in your inner ear and the air pressure outside are equal. However, when external pressure changes very quickly, the inner ear experiences extreme pressure because it cannot adjust at the same speed. Apart from causing severe pain, the air and fluid trapped inside the middle ear can occasionally cause the middle ear to rupture.

The reason why you don t get ear pain when ascending a mountain on a hike is because the air pressure changes gradually, giving the inner ear pressure enough time to adjust. Prevention is better than cure Ear pain caused by air pressure is excruciating, and has been known to make grown men cry. It also doesn t discriminate even first class passengers are reduced to tears. 1. Swallow, chew or yawn When you it stimulates the muscles that open your Eustachian tubes, which can alleviate the pressure in the inner ear. 2. Valsalva manoeuvre According to, the technique known as the valsalva manoeuvre commonly practiced by deep sea divers, will help unblock your ears when pressure starts to build up. Pinch your nose closed, close your mouth and slowly do the same as when you're blowing your nose. Repeat until the pressure equalises. 3. Earplugs Making sure you have earplugs is helpful. suggests you use filtered earplugs as this will help stagger the external air pressure and reduce discomfort. 4.

Wake up in time If you ve taken the precautions and had a great take off with no pain, don t wake up too late to prepare for landing. Ask a flight attendant to wake you up in time to prepare your ears for landing. 5. Choose when to travel When planning your trip, consider your health. If you are suffering from a sinus infection, cold or nasal congestion, change your flight dates if you can. These conditions can be exacerbated when flying. 6. Decongestant If you have nasal congestion, take a decongestant 30 minutes before tak-eoff. 7. Allergy medication Take your allergy medication as a precaution one hour before your flight. Read more: If you have ever flown with your parents, you will remember them encouraging you to chew gum or drink a juice box when the plane was taking off and landing. The reason they did this was to lessen or prevent the earache you can get when flying. Actually, you can get an earache anytime you travel up or down in a short period of time. ItБs just that plane trips cause the biggest swings away from, or back to, Mother Earth. The question is, why do you feel this sort of pain and how does swallowing make it better?

To answer this question, we need to review the anatomy of your ear. The eardrum is positioned between two air-filled spaces: the ear canal and the middle ear. The eardrum is made from a special type of skin that resembles an audio speaker. And just like a speaker vibrates to reproduce sound, the eardrum vibrates to transmit sound into your brain. Because air is present on both sides of the eardrum, forces in the ear canal or middle ear can affect its position. If you stifle a sneeze by holding your nose, forces push the eardrum outward. This can cause pain. If you have a cold, the eardrum may be pulled inward, which can also cause pain. Which brings us to flying or driving up and down steep hills. You may not know this, but the atmosphere that surrounds the Earth has weight. This means there is more air pressure at ground level than at 30,000 feet above the planet. Before you take off, the pressure in the ear canal and middle ear is the same. As the plane climbs, the air pressure in the cabin and the ear canal drops. This happens because as you go higher there is less atmosphere weighing down on your body.

As a result, your eardrum is pushed outward because the pressure in the canal is less than the pressure in the middle ear. When you land, the opposite happens. There is more pressure in the ear canal, and the eardrum is pushed inward. The easiest way to understand this concept is to do an experiment with a straw. When both ends of a straw are open, the pressure inside and outside is the same. Put the straw in your mouth and cover the far end with your finger. If you suck some of the air out of the straw, it will collapse in the middle. This happens because sucking air out of the straw makes the pressure inside less than outside. This is where swallowing comes in. The Eustachian tube is a thin tube that connects the middle ear to the back of your throat. The Eustachian tube is a pop-off valve of sorts. When you swallow, it opens briefly letting air in or out of the middle ear to equalize the air pressure on both sides of your eardrum. IsnБt the human body amazing? Bennett, a Washington pediatrician, is the author of Б. Б

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