Severe Ear Pain during flying - solutions?

Discussion in 'Your Questions' started by simongr, Sep 25, 2006.

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  1. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    Hi all
    Well I had my first flights with Mrs Sim in a very long time over the weekend and it was very distressing to see how badly her ears hurt during the flights. On teh flights up to BNE it was pretty much just pain on descent - but on the return the next day she was in pain for almost the entire flight.
    I saw an ad once in the gents at Sydney domestic for flight/swim ear plugs or soemthing that would stop the pain. Does anyone have any experience with these or have advice about something similar?
    She tries everything - eucalyptus, swallowing, jaw woggling, pinching the nose etc.... some of them make it worse as the release of pressure is very painful. I have no experience of this as it doesnt affect me at all - even when diving I can drop like a stone without having trouble equalising pressure.
    I would really appreciate some help on this this really upsets her for the build up of the flight and ruins the entire experience for her :(
    Cheers
    S
     

  2. garyjohn951

    garyjohn951 Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    561
    2
    Melbourne
    I will not recommend the following but just report that I had similiar problems, went to my doctor for advice. He advised me to take Sinus tablets for 24 hrs prior to the flight. [ie demezen, etc] However I advise not to take these without seeing your doctor as many of them are not compatable with other medicines.
     
  3. NM

    NM
    Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
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    The best advise will come from her GP. I suffer from a hereditary condition of having lots of ear wax and my ears regularly get clogged by the gunk. I can mostly deal with it with various drops etc (such as Waxsol or Ear Clear) but every now and then when I am not diligent with keeping them clear they can get really clogged.

    Last week it was so bad that I could not sleep or concentrate on work while my ears were clogged and hurting. A visit to the doctor was in order. He had a look inside and made a comment about it being sealed up like Aladdin's cave. He flushed them out (just with warm water under pressure) and I could hear again!

    My mother always visits her GP to have her ears flushed (she uses the term syringed, but I assume its the same process as I had last week) before she flies, just to be sure.

    Mrs NM saw an advert for an ear flushing device for home use, but I have not seen it not know if it works the same as they way the doctor cleared out my caves. But I suggest consulting her doctor for a check of her ears and advice on the best way to manage the situation. Ears are sensitive organs and need to be looked after.
     
  4. ColinP

    ColinP Member

    May 1, 2006
    459
    15
    Adelaide
    Those earplugs are called 'earplanes'. My wife also has trouble equalising and has tried them. She finds that they work for her. When flying infrequently she uses them on every flight but for instance, on a recent LLGLOB34 she only needed to use them for the first 3 or 4 flights and then found that she didn't need them for the rest of the trip. They're available in most chemists and are worth a try.

    Earplanes Adult by Cirrus

    ---------------------------
     
  5. TonyB

    TonyB Intern

    Mar 20, 2006
    67
    0
    Perth
    I used to have the exact same problem with flying to the point where I absolutely dreaded getting on a plane because the pain on descent was unbearable! It didn't matter what I tried as far as trying to equalise on descent, nothing worked and it felt like my head was going to explode. Now I take a couple of sudafed a few hours before the flight and haven't had a problem since, but as mentioned earlier see your doctor first - it works wonders for me but it may be contraindicated for other people on different medications.
     
  6. snufl

    snufl Member

    Aug 11, 2006
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    I normally don't have a problem, however if I have recently had a cold my ears are more sensitive. Also found that if my ears hurt on first flight the pain increases on next flights. Have used earplanes and found they do help but if pain is severe I'd see a GP as well.
     
  7. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    Thanks for that - yep that was what I was looking for. Just wish I had had a chance to sort this before the flights this weekend - it would have been a good test run.

    I will get her to go to the doc as well and see. The sudafed might be a good idea - no other meds so shouldnt be complicated.

    S
     
  8. serfty

    Moderator

    Nov 16, 2004
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    By all means, an MD's advice is important here.

    Note that many "Sinus Medications" that used to be available over the counter can now only by obtained by presription. (e.g. Sudafed)
     
  9. TonyB

    TonyB Intern

    Mar 20, 2006
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    Perth
    I am not sure if sudafed is now a prescription medication, is it? I understand that you might now have to provide some personal information/medicare card when buying it, but I would be surprised if it required a prescription.

    Either way you can still buy any other cold medication (codral etc) without prescription that contains the same active ingredient and should clear the sinuses for descent.
     
  10. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    I dont think you need a prescription for Sudafed - you just need to show ID and give details - unless it changed very recently.
     
  11. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    I am not a doctor!

    One thing that might help is a nasal spray just before getting on the plane, and a few minutes before descent.

    Agree about the other posts about a possible ear wax/infection issue.

    (Oh and, my understanding is that Sudafed is still available from chemists, but they will quiz you why you want it and record your driver's license details).
     
  12. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    One thing to possibly try is the BrenClear route (which I use all the time).

    BrenClear is an inhalant, similiar to the wet-wipes you get from KFC or Red Rooster, but instead of wiping your hands with them you inhale eucalyptus oils.

    I have found that this helps me on descent, as well as making the cabin smell better.

    the best way to use them (but only around 50% of crews are willing to do it) is to get a plastic cup with four or five BrenClear sachets in it, and place around an inch of hot water in it - then inhale the vapours.

    Works miracles, although some cabin crew are reluctant to hand out a cup of hot water so close to landing.

    Qll QF aircraft have BrenClear sachets loaded, and a lot of cabin crew carry them on their person, so don't hesitate to ask for a couple.

    Dave
     
  13. vt01

    vt01 Member

    Jan 6, 2006
    374
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    Sydney
    The only problems I've had are from sinus infections or colds. So the things I've tried only relate to those problems. I can easily equalise ear pressure through my estation tube (except with a sever blocked nose)

    I tried earplanes once and although they stopped the pain, I could barely hear out of one of my ears for about 4 hours. But then annoying as this was, it was much better than the pain I had previously

    I have found the nasal sprays the most effective and never travel without one (except recently to the UK do to carry on restrictions). But these really only help if the problem is blocked nose or sinus. And you really need to be careful with these.. I try and avoid using them where ever possible as they do bad things to the lining of your nose if used too frequently. Their one advantage is that they work within minutes.. So I try to go through climb or descent without using it but have it on hand in case the pain starts.

    I now have hay fever and hence inflammed sinus. I can still have pain around my head with a perfectly clear nose.

    Therefore a trip to the doc is in order. She needs to find out what is causing the problem - estation tubes, sinus or some other problem. Then the most successful solution can be found.
     
  14. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    Thanks - that was one of the things that was very good about the QF FA this weekend - she saw that mrs sim was distressed and without prompting handed over the saches - didnt help a lot but did make it a bit easier - and a very nice touch from the FA (have to say all the QF FAs over the past few flights have been excellent).
     
  15. Prof Henry

    Prof Henry Intern

    Sep 9, 2005
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    I've been using EarPlanes on all flights for several years & wouldn't fly without them. They don't provide 100% relief but the benefit is significant. I only need them for descents (no ascent problem for me, thankfully) and can usually get about 20 flights' use out of a single pair so the $14 outlay is pretty reasonable.

    I find they insert more easily if you moisten them slightly before inserting. I also find that the benefit is maximised if you insert them at the very top of the descent - before the pressure begins to change.

    BTW, I notice Simongr's initial post referred to his wife's significant pain on descent into Brisbane. I find - or do I imagine it? - that the descent into BNE is more likely to be problematic than any other.
     
  16. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    Thanks again - it was interesting that mrs sim was worse than I had seen before in the flight into BNE - but there also seemed to be long term issues as she was then incredibly pained on the way back and her ears are still popping a week later :(
     
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