Protect Your Ears, Avoid Headaches Post-Flight - Flightright

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Ears shut and headaches after a flight? Prevent annoying ear pressure with these tips

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Prevent ear pressure
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The most important information on “Tips for annoying ear pressure”

  • Unpleasant ear pressure occurs particularly during take-off and landing.
  • Chewing gum or yawning can help to equalize the pressure. Swallowing hard or holding your nose and exhaling can also help.
  • A nasal spray with a decongestant effect can help with a blocked nose.
  • It is also advisable to avoid alcohol and coffee, as these can dry out the mucous membranes.
  • Children need special attention and help with ear pressure.
  • Ear pressure can occur more frequently with colds or allergies.
  • If you have severe symptoms, you should consult a doctor before departure.
  • If you have any unclear symptoms on board, inform the cabin crew.

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Many air travellers know the feeling only too well. The unpleasant pressure on the ears when flying in an aeroplane. This feeling is particularly intense during take-off and landing. It can also lead to headaches after the flight. The reason for this is the changing air pressure, which increases or decreases depending on the rise or fall in altitude. With the following tricks, you can protect yourself from this unpleasant feeling and learn how best to get rid of ear pressure after the flight.

Why do you get an earache on a plane?

Air travel triggers mixed feelings in people. Some enjoy floating above the clouds, others are glad when the plane comes in for a safe landing. What all passengers can agree on, however, is that the unpleasant throbbing in the ears, which can be caused by the pressure during the landing approach, is a burden. This feeling is caused by the fact that the pressure in the cabin increases during descent. So the cabin pressure gets higher the lower the aircraft flies. Then the eardrum can bulge inwards because there is no equalisation between the pressure in the middle ear and the external pressure. This feeling can trigger an earache in air travellers, which only goes away after some time. If you feel pressure on your ears shut after a cold, you should take nasal drops with you. These are the best remedy and have a decongestant effect down the throat. However, if the swelling is more severe, as in the case of a middle ear infection, even the drops often do not help and it is difficult or impossible to equalise the pressure. This can lead to great pain during the flight. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid air travel with acute infections, if possible.

Can the eardrum burst when flying?

If the air pressure changes while flying, the ear canal automatically tries to compensate for the pressure. Some areas of the ear at the back are sealed off from the outside by the eardrum. When the aircraft climbs, overpressure is created in the ears, as already described, whereas underpressure is created when the aircraft descends. The eardrum tightens and can bulge outwards. Some air travellers hardly notice this and the condition lasts only for a short time. But some people feel this sensation more strongly and the pressure can still be noticeable after landing. People whose ear canal is particularly narrow are usually affected. In the worst case, these passengers may experience a rupture of the eardrum due to a change in air pressure, but this is relatively rare concerning the total number of passengers.

What can be done about ear pressure on planes?

The good news about ear pressure on planes is that passengers can actively do something about it. For example, ear pressure exercises are a good way to reduce or get rid of uncomfortable feelings. But there are also other ways to counteract ear pressure, which are listed below:

  • Slowly move the jaw and facial muscles back and forth.
  • Chewing gum slowly or sucking on a sweet for a long time.
  • Yawn occasionally and open your mouth slowly.
  • Swallow more intensively when eating or drinking.
  • Wear special earplugs to help equalise pressure.
  • Special nasal spray that supports breathing and pressure equalisation.

What helps against earache after a flight?

If the ears are shut after the flight, this can hurt the first few hours at the destination. In addition to the previously described measures, it is important to stretch your legs after the flight, relax and drink plenty of fluids, as the air on the plane is very dry. Then the earache should stop after a few hours or a few days at the most. If this does not happen, you should see an ENT doctor who can take a closer look at the ears shut.

How long do you have pressure on the ears after a flight?

How long the pressure on the ears lasts after a flight varies from person to person. For some people, the pressure subsides as soon as they land, while some travellers feel the discomfort for a few hours or days. If the ears shut after a flight, simple measures such as equalising the pressure, drinking plenty of fluids and frequent swallowing usually help. If the pressure still does not go away, travellers should not panic, as it can take some time for the symptoms to disappear completely. However, if the feeling has not disappeared even after days, further measures should be taken, such as visiting a doctor.

Ears shut after the flight – When do I need to see a doctor?

If the ears are still shut after a flight and a persistent headache after a flight is still noticeable, it should be observed whether the pain slowly subsides or not. If the pain does not subside even after a few days after landing, it is advisable to see an ENT doctor. He can then examine whether, for example, the eardrum is damaged or something else is wrong. There should be no hesitation in taking this step, as a holiday with earache is not recommended, especially if it is a beach holiday, for example.

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