General Question

juniper's avatar

What should I do if I have ear congestion and I need to fly in an airplane?

Asked by juniper (1899points) June 2nd, 2009

A few years ago I caught a bad cold while I was traveling in Europe. I had to fly back while I still had bad congestion so that I wouldn’t be separated from my group. By the time we landed in the U.S., I felt like hell. I could barely hear—it sounded like everything was underwater.

I thought this was a freak situation, but my friend recently experienced the same thing, even after taking some sudafed before the flight.

I’m flying next week and I have a bit of a cold. What should I do if this gets worse? Is there any medicine I can take to prevent the pressure from doing so much damage? Or should I just not fly? And how can I tell if my cold and congestion is bad enough to merit missing my important flight?

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10 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I get the same thing even when healthy. My ears are fucked.

My old roommate suggested these. Not perfect but helped a lot.

And normally on every landing I went deaf and it hurt like hell. Even with those it still sucks, but it sucks a lot less.

edit :: drunk

hearkat's avatar

Take decongestants and/or antihistamines (only if they are safe for you, and you do not have any preexisting medical conditions or other medications which would contraindicate this) on a regular basis from now through your vacation and return flight, and drink plenty of fluids.

I used EarPlanes for my son and I, and they seemed to help.

Mtl_zack's avatar

Please try to cure yourself before you go, or take some vitamin c. Airplanes are flying cellpools and have a lot of germs. And if you bring a cold on the flight and you transfer it to the guy next to you, who is a European businessperson, he will get on his transfer flight to Romania, then his associate from Japan who he’s meeting there will get it and bring it to Japan, and he’ll transfer it to his Swedish friend and so on and so forth.

juniper's avatar

Yeah, I use earplanes every time I fly, whether I’m sick or not. They help a lot, but I doubt they’d be enough.

@johnpowell, this happens to you every time?! Horrible!

@Mtl_zack, I’ll try my best. Sometimes you just have to fly, though. I have a work commitment that I’ll need to get back to on time. My boss is only so understanding about missing work because of a cold.

hearkat's avatar

@johnpowell: What about prescription nasal sprays, like Nasonex? Do you snore or have sleep apnea? Have you had your adenoids and/or tonsils out?

marinelife's avatar

I flew 70,000 miles a year on business for many years.

Use the diver’s best friend, Sudafed, if you do not have an issue with high blood pressure, if you must fly while congested.

I also take EmergenC within half an hour of getting on and then again getting off the plane. i find it helps fend off plane-acquired germs.

Mtl_zack's avatar

@juniper If you gotta go, you gotta go

Judi's avatar

I went to the doctor. He told me to take Sudafed and an expectorant and he gave me a steroid nose spray. he also told me to use Afrin. I also used a netti pot before I sprayed anything in my nose to clear out all the congestion. It worked and I was in a non pressurized plane.

hearkat's avatar

@Judi: Afrin is one of those nasal sprays that has some risks associated with it. It is effective, but it is not a good choice for everyone. I just want to make people aware, and to stress that they should read all the directions and warnings on any product prior to taking, regardless of who has recommended it to you (Doctors and Pharmacists are also human).

Judi's avatar

@hearkat ; Yes, I only took it at the direction of my doctor. We mapped out a plan for me to take the flight. I didn’t use it again until just before I came home.

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