Do you frequently travel by air? Have you experienced discomfort in your ear during air journeys? If the answer is ‘yes’, then read on.
The altitude change during take-off and landing of flight is accompanied by air pressure change as well. When the air pressure on either side of the ear drum i.e., that in the cabin and the middle ear, is not equal the discomfort in ear occurs. This condition is termed as “aeroplane ear” or “ear barotrauma”. The pain may be dull or throbbing; some may even hear everything only as muffled noises. The strategy to relieve ear barotrauma involves popping open the Eustachian tube to allow entry of air into the middle ear, to equalize pressure on both sides of the ear drum. This can be achieved by simple movements like chewing, swallowing, sucking and yawning. By now, the role of chewing gum in relieving aeroplane ear would have become crystal clear to you.
Chew gum works fabulously to keep the Eustachian tube open during air travel. It not only promotes chewing but also swallowing, to send the saliva secreted during chewing down the oral cavity. The candies distributed by the cabin crew during take-off, is also with the same motive, though it is widely perceived only as a gesture of welcome.
A chewy ride on an aeroplane definitely helps ease ear pain that arises due to barotrauma. So, ultimately there is yet another thing your air travel check list should cover besides travel documents, electronic gadgets, currencies and medications. And yes, that is a pack of CHEWING GUM.
Other tips to combat ear barotrauma:
- Suck on lozenges for relief.
- Drink water, both to keep yourself well-hydrated and to encourage swallowing; Hydration prevents irritation of the nasal cavity, throat and ensures better functioning of the Eustachian tube.
- Yawn from time to time.
- A feeding bottle or pacifier should do the trick for infants. If possible nurse them during the flight’s ascent and descent.
- Wear ear plugs during the journey.
- Consult a physician before air travel to treat any condition like cold or sore throat that may lead to blocked Eustachian tube.
- A prescription decongestant spray or antihistamine may also help.
If you want to catch up with more about chewing gum, read Stretchy Snappy Snippets.