Most of you must have experienced some level of discomfort and/or ear pain during air travel. It isn’t uncommon to hear little children wailing and crying in the aircraft, especially during take-off and descent. Change in altitudes causes air bubble formation inside a tiny tube in the middle ear which balances the air pressure. Any block inside these tubes may lead to discomfort or pain. It’s especially worse in small children because they have narrow Eustachian tubes. The problem also gets worse if the ears are already congested or blocked due to severe cold, blocked nose, ear infection or excessive wax.
So if you are planning an air travel, few simple precautions and some amount of advance planning can help reduce the discomfort and put your child at ease.
- If you’re traveling with an infant, bottle-feeding or pacifier during take-off and landing may help pop the blocked ears. You can also breastfeed your baby and this is highly recommended as sucking for milk not only clears the blocked ears but also pacifies the baby who may feel insecure and disturbed in the new surroundings.
- Yawning can also ease the discomfort. If your child is old enough to understand this, encourage him or her to yawn frequently, more so when the ears feel blocked.
- Children above 3 years can suck a hard candy, chew gummies or keep sipping water as the act of swallowing will open the blocked tubes.
- Teach this simple technique to slightly older kids – Upon take off or during descent, pinch your nostrils and very gently try to blow in and out, keeping your mouth shut. Repeat it slowly for a few times until the block gets cleared. Just make sure they don’t blow out too hard and hurt the ear drums.
- If your child has cold or ear infection, take some precautions in advance. Visit your physician before travel and request for appropriate treatment for cold or ear infections. Ask for a prescription of gentle nasal decongestant spray. Spray it a few times before and during travel to clear the nasal passages. You can also carry with you Adol or Tylenol and give a dose of the same, 30 minutes before the flight if you think your child is likely to experience ear pain.
- Try to keep your child awake during takeoff or landing. When children fall asleep, they are more likely to experience an air block.