Airplane Earaches: Preventing In-Flight Pain

Airplane Earache Prevention Tips


With warm weather ushering in waves of travel plans, your family may have a lot of things to look forward to this year. If your vacation plans include air travel, you may already be nervous about a constant of air travel: airplane earaches caused by changes in cabin pressure.

For adults, it’s an uncomfortable annoyance. For little ones, whose Eustachian tubes are smaller and easier to clog, it can be a painful experience. While there’s nothing you can do to change the atmospheric hassles of air travel, following a few tips ahead of time can help reduce discomfort while in the air.

  • Stay Hydrated: Give your child plenty of uncaffeinated liquids the day of your flight. Dehydration causes mucous to thicken and become sticky, making draining through Eustachian tubes difficult for children, which can become a source of pain.
  • Be Proactive: If your child has a history of earaches or previously experienced in-flight ear pain, get ahead of the pain by administering ibuprofen or acetaminophen at the terminal. Always follow dosage information on the package or as indicated by your doctor.
  • Chew and Swallow: Swallowing helps Eustachian tubes drain and equalize pressure in the ear. Provide your youngster with fluids to drink during takeoff and landing. If you’re concerned about triggering too many potty breaks with liquids, provide gum or hard candy to promote swallowing.
  • Stay Awake: Kids who sleep though altitude changes can’t actively swallow during ascent or descent, putting their bodies’ natural ability to regulate pressure at a disadvantage.

A trip in an airplane doesn’t have to be a struggle with ear pain. Plan ahead and eliminate much of the discomfort from airplane earaches this travel season.