Posts for tag: Ear Pain
What are the symptoms of airplane ear?
Anyone who has ever experienced this knows the symptoms. Most people experience mild to moderate ear pain, fullness, or muffled hearing while flying. Sometimes these symptoms can become severe, resulting in intense ear pressure, vertigo, ringing in the ears, and even significant (but temporary) hearing loss.
Why does airplane ear happen?
Since you are flying at high altitudes in an airplane, the pressure of the air versus the pressure of the middle ear don’t align, which impacts how the eardrum vibrates. Since air pressure changes rather quickly, particularly during takeoff and landing, this is often when people experience bouts of airplane ear. Some people may find that yawning helps open the eustachian tubes to equalize pressure in the ear to alleviate symptoms.
Of course, flying in an airplane isn’t the only time that you may experience this problem. If you are in the mountains, ride an elevator or go scuba diving, you may also notice that your ears get plugged up. This is usually a minor occurrence of ear barotrauma.
Some people may be more prone to airplane ear than others. Newborns and toddlers are at risk because they have smaller eustachian tubes. Other risk factors include ear or sinus infections, allergies, or having a cold.
Are there ways to improve airplane ear?
Fortunately, there are certain techniques and tricks to make dealing with airplane ear a little less painful. Most people have tried the Valsalva maneuver, in which you pinch your nose and keep your mouth closed and then gently blow through the nose. You may also chew gum or suck on a piece of candy. If you believe that your airplane ear is caused by allergies or sinus infections, try taking a decongestant or using a nasal spray before takeoff and landing.
If you find yourself dealing with ear pain or changes in hearing that last for days after flying, it’s important that you call your ENT doctor right away. Even the most minor symptoms may require medical attention, so don’t ignore them.
While they tend to be most common in young children, ear infections can affect people of all ages. An ear infection can result from a number of causes, and treatment will depend on the severity, location, symptoms and source of the infection. Many ear infections respond to self care and clear up on their own, while others may require treatment and prescription medication from an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT).
Treating an Ear Infection
The ear is made up of three parts - the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. Infections usually develop in the middle ear and can be caused by either a virus, fungus or bacteria. An ENT will check for fluid buildup and determine whether it is a viral or bacterial infection, which helps to determine what the treatment will be. Viral middle ear infections generally clear up on their own over time, and symptoms can be managed with pain relievers like Advil. If the infection is caused by bacteria, an ENT may prescribe antibiotics to help clear up the infection and prevent the bacteria from proliferating. With severe fluid build up, the middle ear may have to be drained of the excess fluid in order to relieve pressure and allow air to flow through the ear.
Types of Ear Infections
In addition to viral and bacterial infections of the middle ear, another common type of ear infection is swimmer's ear, which affects the ear canal in the outer ear from excess water buildup which can lead to bacterial growth in the lining of the ear. Swimmer's ear (otitis externa) is usually treated with medicated drops. In rare cases, an ear infection can be caused by a fungal infection, in which case antifungal medications may be prescribed. Steroids are also sometimes used to help reduce inflammation.