When it comes to summer travel options, the sky’s the limit. You could fly to a tropical island and go scuba diving, drive to your favorite mountain range and go hiking, or take those flying lessons you’ve always dreamed of.
Although each of these ideas seem a lot different, you could experience the same problem while doing any of them. Ear and sinus pain from changes in air pressure can put a damper on the most exciting vacation. Learn how to avoid it now so you can make the most of your summer.
What is Barotrauma?
Barotrauma is the medical term for discomfort felt when there is a variation in air pressure between the outside environment and the inside of your body. For instance, when you fly in an airplane and feel your ears pop, that’s your body reacting to the difference in air pressure. Barotrauma can cause ear problems and sinus problems that can be really painful and annoying.
Ear Barotrauma often affects the middle ear and can happen if you’re flying, driving in the mountains, or scuba diving. Symptoms include ear problems such as pain and a stuffy sensation, temporary hearing loss and dizziness.
Sinus Barotrauma occurs when there is a difference in pressure between the air-filled holes around the nose and the pressure outside. It’s common when there is a change in elevation. The sinus problems it causes include sinus pressure, pain around cheek bones or above the eyes, headaches and even nose-bleeds.
How Can I Get Relief?
If you start to experience discomfort while flying, diving, or driving in the mountains, you may feel better if you:
•Suck on candy or chew gum
•Inhale and gently exhale through the nose while pinching the nostrils closed
•Take a decongestant
•Have your baby suck on a bottle or pacifier during take-off and landing to relieve ear pain and pressure
Is There a Way to Prevent Barotrauma in the First Place?
The easiest way to avoid ear and sinus problems while flying, diving, or mountain climbing is to wait until you are not congested from allergies or a cold. Starting with sinus problems will only make pain worse when air pressure changes occur.
Besides that, here are some tips to help you avoid Barotrauma this summer:
•Stay hydrated so your sinuses aren’t as likely to dry out and cause pain
•When flying, wear filtered ear plugs, which will slowly equalize the air pressure against your eardrum
•When diving, don’t go down beyond 130 feet, and don’t hold your breath
•After diving, don’t fly or go to a higher altitude for at least 24 hours
Sound Health Can Help with Sinus and Ear Problems Caused by Barotrauma
If you’re susceptible to ear and sinus problems during elevation changes, talk to a Sound Health ENT before your vacation about ear plugs that can equalize air pressure. If you’ve recently traveled and symptoms linger for days or weeks after you’re home, you may have a sinus infection or another medical concern that needs to be addressed. Just call (314) 332-1377
to make an appointment.
Enjoy Your Summer and Have a Healthy, Wonderful Vacation!