Ear pain during flying could indicate several different conditions, some more serious than others. If you are a frequent flyer, you have probably experienced some type of ear pain, discomfort, or fullness during your travels. Sometimes, these sensations are harmless and are the result of a cold or sinus infection. However, in other cases, they could indicate middle ear dysfunction or underlying inner ear disorders. Keep reading for detailed synopses of what your symptoms could mean.
Sinus Infection Symptoms
Flying with a sinus infection can cause more pressure and pain within the middle ear and facial bones that make up the sinuses. This is exacerbated during ascent and descent, during which the change in altitude is extremely rapid.
Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Symptoms
Usually, ETD ear pain comes and goes. However, flying can be painful and cause heightened lingering symptoms for a few days post-flight. The eustachian tubes can become even more clogged or shut due to the lack of equalized air pressure, and it can be painful to repressurize with swallowing and yawning.
Barotrauma (Airplane Ear) Symptoms
Airplane ear is very similar to ETD but presents with more serious symptoms. Eustachian tube issues left untreated can lead to barotrauma, placing you at heightened risk for developing chronic tinnitus and hearing loss.
Tonsillolith (Tonsil Stones) Symptoms
Tonsil stones can develop anywhere in the tonsil. However, due to shared nerve pathways, they may cause pain in the ear. There are several treatments for tonsilloliths, including antibiotics, saltwater gargles, and at-home removal. Unfortunately, the only way to prevent future episodes of stones and infection, doctors may recommend total surgical removal of the tonsils.
Middle Ear Infection Symptoms
Narrowed eustachian tubes can result in blockages in the middle ear, leading to a buildup of viral or bacterial pathogens. Ear infections are very common after the common cold, flu, allergies, or respiratory infections. Some ear infections can be treated with antibiotics, whereas others may time to let them pass. If you experience recurring infections, your doctor may recommend ear tubes or eustachian tube balloon dilation.
Tips For Ear Pain During Flying
If you are experiencing ear pain regularly or during flying, schedule a consultation with Vitale; make an appointment online or call us today at (813) 336-2862!