Ear Wax and Airplane Pressure: Don’t Let Them Ruin Your Holiday!

Posted on April 24, 2024 by John Beharrell
earwax and holiday

So, you’ve booked your dream holiday, packed your bags, and are buzzing with excitement. But wait, there’s one thing you haven’t considered: ear discomfort during your flight. Fear not, fellow traveller! This blog post will arm you with the knowledge to fly ear-free (or at least close to it!).

Swimming with Blocked Ears

We find that one of the most common difficulties people encounter with their ears while on holiday are ear infections and blocked ears that start when on holiday. This can happen when you have a good amount of wax in your ears but not enough to intially cause a problem. When you go swimming on holiday the water can get trapped behind this wax, causing hearing loss, discomfort and if left can turn into an ear infection. Treatment for this abroad costs around 500 to 900 euros plus the difficulty of finding a professional that will treat it.

The best way to treat this is prevention. Before you go on holiday is to book an appointment with a ear care professional to get your ears checked and cleared.

Flying with Blocked Ear

Ear wax is a natural substance protecting our ears from dust and debris. But sometimes, excess wax can block the ear canal. This then traps air between that wax and the eardrum. During takeoff and landing, rapid pressure changes can cause this trapped air to expand and push against the eardrum leading to pain, fullness, and temporary hearing loss.

Symptoms to Watch Out For:

  • Earache or muffled hearing
  • Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
  • Clicking or popping sounds
  • Dizziness or vertigo

You’re at risk if you have the following:

Certain factors increase susceptibility:

  • Middle Ear Infection
  • Common Cold
  • Sinusitis
  • Hay Fever
  • Wax blocking ears

Flying Smart: Preventative Measures:

  1. Clear the Way: If you’re prone to earwax buildup, consult with your GP or call us for safe removal well before your flight.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight to thin mucus and keep your Eustachian tubes functioning smoothly.
  3. Chew & Swallow: Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy during takeoff and landing encourages swallowing, which helps open the Eustachian tubes.
  4. Yawning Power: Open your mouth wide and yawn to encourage natural tube opening.
  5. Valsalva Maneuver: For the more adventurous, try the Valsalva maneuver: pinch your nose closed, gently blow out as if blowing your nose (without forcing air out), and swallow at the same time. Repeat if needed.

For infants, babies and toddlers:

  1. Feed Babies with a Bottle: Sucking and swallowing equalises pressure.
  2. Encourage Sucking on a Dummy (Pacifier).
  3. Offer Sweets to Suck (for Older Kids).
  4. Use a Straw Sports Bottle.

Extra Tips for Tough Cases:

  • Decongestants: Over-the-counter nasal decongestants can be helpful, but use them only with doctor approval if you have any health conditions.
  • Ear Plugs: Special earplugs designed for flying can help regulate pressure changes.
  • Doctor’s Visit: If you have concerns or a history of ear problems, consult your doctor for personalised advice.

Remember: Prevention is key! By taking these simple steps, you can significantly reduce your chances of ear discomfort and enjoy a smooth, pain-free flight. Now, go forth and conquer your dream holiday! ✈️