skip to Main Content
Do You Experience Ear Pain While Flying?

Do You Experience Ear Pain While Flying?


We all know that feeling of clogged ears during an airplane flight. You chew gum, swallow, yawn, or plug your nose and blow with your mouth shut in order to unclog them. Most of the time, this does the trick. However, many people with undiagnosed ear and nose conditions regularly experience ear pain during flights. If you have a pre-existing condition, whether it’s a cold, an ear infection, a sinus infection, or the flu, going on an airplane can cause discomfort and temporarily worsen the condition.


Firstly, it is important to monitor your health regularly to prevent getting sick. Secondly, if you are experiencing any symptoms, early intervention and treatment is the key to avoid a full-blown sickness. Some symptoms are more serious than others, so it can be difficult to determine when to avoid certain activities and seek medical attention.


Sinus Infection Symptoms:

  • Facial pressure or pain
  • Headaches
  • Nasal congestion
  • Elevated temperature
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Thick nasal discharge that is yellow or green


If you experience at least three of these symptoms at a time, it likely indicates a sinus infection that can be treated with antibiotics. If you suffer from at least three sinus infections a year, this most likely indicates acute or chronic sinusitis. Thankfully, there are safe and effective treatment options for this recurrent condition, including the Balloon Sinuplasty procedure.


Flying with a sinus infection or sinusitis is not dangerous, but it will cause you significantly more discomfort and pain. To make the flight easier on your sinuses, make sure to pack nasal spray, tissues, and any medications you may require into your carry on. In addition, it is important to stay hydrated and avoid drying out the nose. Once on the plane, order a cup of tea and breathe in the steam before drinking it.


Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Sinus issues aren’t the only thing that can cause ear pain during flying. The eustachian tubes, small passageways that connect the throat to the middle ear, are often times the culprit for such symptoms. These tubes are responsible for equalizing ear pressure and draining fluid from the middle ear. The eustachian tubes are usually closed except for when you chew, swallow, or yawn. However, sometimes they can get clogged, causing ear fullness, ear pain, and decreased hearing. This is usually caused by allergies or illnesses like sinus infections and common colds. You may be at heightened risk for eustachian tube dysfunction if you are obese, smoke regularly, or have allergies. Children can develop ETD more easily than adults, due to their small ears and decreased immune activity.


ETD is not dangerous to fly with, but it can cause heightened levels of ear fullness, pain, and discomfort. Similar to sinus balloon dilation, there is a eustachian tube balloon dilation procedure that can help permanently restore your ears back to normal.

Flying with ear and nose conditions can be bothersome, but the Breathe Sinus team is here to help you! Don’t suffer silently anymore, call (219) 300-9153 or schedule an appointment with Dr. Jack Patel online!