Blocked ears are the second leading cause – behind turbulence – of F/A IOD’s this year. With the winter months approaching, precautions can be taken to prevent blocked ears and being stranded away from home. Here are a few steps that you can do to prevent ear blocks:
• Keep well hydrated – drink 1-2 glasses of water for every hour in the air.
• Swallowing or yawning repeatedly when your ears begin to feel “stuffy” works the muscles. This helps to open the Eustachian tub and allows your ear to clear
• Leaning your head to the shoulder opposite of the “stuffy” ear may stretch the Eustachian tube enough to open it.
• Wash your hands. It kills the germs that can make you sick.
• Oral decongestants such as Sudafed should be used as directed. If possible, take the recommended dosage one hour before flying and then continue as directed.
• Nasal decongestants such as Afrin may reduce swelling of the nasal membranes. Use them as directed and for no longer than 3 days at a time since the body will develop a tolerance if used longer.
• Normal saline nasal decongestants such as “Ayr” and “Ocean” brands can be used frequently. They are not irritating and the body will not build a resistance
• Valsalva maneuver
• “Hot cups” (hot wash cloths inside disposable cups) to the ears can help relieve pain and pressure.