Airplanes and the mystery of ear pain
Hey friends, I’m back with some amazing travel memories which shall be posted on our Travel blog . One thing which pinched me some times before with my 3year old kid was the “Ear Pain” he suffered for small duration while the airplane takes off and while landing. There were some tricks I applied, which for sure reduced the pain to some level and he did not create a panic for those moments this time. I’m sure everyone of us have been experiencing these ear pains, but handling small kids while ascend and descend of the flight goes terrible.
This prompted me to share some of the tricks I used, with other parents or even adults. But before that, let’s all understand the reason as to why does the ear pain occurs while landing and take off?
Why does Ear pain happens in airplane?
Our ear has three parts basically, The Outer, Middle and Inner ear. (Remember, we all read it in Science when we were small?). Usually the air pressure inside the inner air and outside is same, since there is a tube called – Eustachian Tube which helps in maintaining the ear pressure.
It all happens because, when the plane takes off, the air pressure in the inner ear crosses that of the air pressure outside. [Remember, the air pressure gets lower at higher altitudes and hence the breathing becomes difficult on high altitudes]. This causes the Eardrum to swell outwards and causes ample pain and muffled sounds. Opposite is the process while the plane lands and the eardrum goes inward. Till the time this ear pressure is not balanced with the sudden altitude change, it continues to bother us and creates panic in babies for small durations. While landing, the air pressure in the cabin increases. But those few minutes seem unconsolable, atleast I felt so earlier.
Further, kids have narrow Eustachian tubes and they might have it partly blocked due to Cold or Ear infection. In such cases, one should try avoiding flights and travel in planes only if necessary.
How to reduce the Ear Pain in child while in Airplane?
Let’s get onto some tricks I used to follow & applied on my kid, while in flight & some atleast 30-40minutes before the scheduled take off.
1. Drink ample water or juices (Not coffee or caffeinated drinks) :
Drink plenty of fluids before & while in flight. The reason being very simple, drinking stimulates swallowing which helps de-clogging or opening of Eustachian tubes to have a healthy maintenance of Ear air pressure. Get your child to sip water frequently and more during take off and landing. Children can have fun by sipping juices as well.
2. Yawn and swallow :
Try for the artificial yawns, as you yawn the air pressure gets balanced slowly. Swallowing as shared in point 1, helps really significantly in lowering the ear pain.
3. Why not treat them with the Hard candies or Lollypops little before landing?
Oh yes, its not a party place but then sucking the lollypops have to be given credit to help maintaining the air pressure due to consistent swallowing. My kid enjoyed his landing party time with his favourite lolly:).
4. Love chewing?
This can be suitable for kids above 3 or more years who know that chewing gums can just be chewed and not let it pass in the food pipe. Try giving kids chewing gums little before take off and landing. This trick I used to follow sometimes.
5. Pacifier / Breastfeeding /Bottle feeding :
Incase you are travelling with your infant/toddler, make sure that you give him either of these three options. While bottle feeding, a child should sit straight rather than in a sleeping position. Breastfeeding helps tons, this is what I did in airplane till my kid was 2 years while take off and landing.
6. Don’t sleep, stay awake and talk to your kid :
Simple reason, while sleeping, we don’t swallow much so keeping the air pressure in the middle air becomes difficult. If your baby is sleeping, try feeding him breast/bottle milk so that he swallows.
7. Special Ear plugs :
Ear pressure regulating ear plugs – Well, these are available for both adults and child, check them out. They basically slow down the pressure change and hence the effect and ear pain reduces. My husband had used them this time and he was pretty comfortable. Insert them in the ear properly and as recommended. Get one for yourself on amazon.
8. Breathing Exercise :
This is my favorite and I do it every time I travel in airplane. But this could be somewhat not compatible with small children, although try out at home once with them. Incase kids are comfortable, do it while takeoff and landing.
Breathe in, then pinch the nostrils part of the nose and then try to exhale through the nose keeping mouth closed. There will be some force but don’t exert extra force as it might hamper the ear drum. As you try exhaling through pinched nose, you’ll feel that the air pressure is getting balanced and the ear opens with ear pain being relieved.
9. Decongestant’s :
One can try out Decongestant’s atleast an hour before the flight takes off, even nasal spray helps a bit. Check out on your spray/kid’s spray with your doctor.
10. Mild Pain relievers :
If you feel that nothing seems to work and your child is in a lot of pain, then give him mild pain relievers. But give only after discussing with your paediatrician.
Hope some of these points work out successfully for you and children to relieve the ear pain in flight. May you have a pleasant flight and inflight experience.