How To Deal With Ear Pain In Your Toddler When Flying?
Created by Ambili S Kartha Updated on Mar 04, 2020
Most of us felt the sensation of our ears popping during takeoff and descending of a flight. However, this issue tends to be little more prominent in the case of kids. For a toddler, though, this sensation can be more than just mildly uncomfortable- for them, ear popping can be painful. Travelling with kids is stressful enough, having to deal with ear pain will worsen it.
Fortunately, there are some measures that you can take, both before you get on the plane, and during the flight, that may help to keep your child from feeling ear popping pain. Continue reading to know why your child's ear aches during flying and how to treat and manage ear pain of your toddler when you are on a flight.
What Causes Ear Pain When Flying?
Ideally, the pressure in the inner ear and outside is more or less same when we are at the same altitude. However, once you are inside the ascending or descending flight, scuba diving, climbing a mountain, or even riding in an elevator, air pressure decreases as you go higher and increases as you go lower. If the pressure of the inner ear is greater than that of the outside, the eardrum or the tympanic membrane to swell outwards. Conversely, if the pressure inside the inner ear is less than the outside, the eardrum tends to be sucked inward. The stretching of the eardrum because of the pressure difference is brought about the discomfort or pain in the ear.
Why Toddlers Are More Prone To Ear Pain When Flying?
There is a small space in the middle ear, behind the eardrum, which is usually filled with air. This space is connected to the back of the nose by the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube balance the air pressure in the middle ear and the air pressure outside by opening and letting air reach the middle ear. In kids, however, the relatively narrow and small Eustachian tubes might not function as effectively as the adults. Therefore, regulating pressure may take longer and can be more painful.
How to ease the ear pain in your toddler while flying?
In order to alleviate the ear pain when flying, you need to help open up the Eustachian tube to ensure that air can travel readily to relieve the pressure. Here are a few ways.
Prepare your child in advance:Before getting on the plane, explain to older children they may experience a little discomfort in the ear during the takeoff and descending of the plane. It may be painful, but will eventually subside. If they understand the probability, it won't shock or scare them when it happens
Treat your child's cold before flying:If your toddler is having any condition which causes extra mucus in the back of the nose, like a cold, then your child is more likely to suffer from ear pain. Therefore, it's best to avoid flying if your child has a cold, or treat the condition before you fly. Consult your child's doctor and he will prescribe age-appropriate medicines to clear the mucus and alleviate the congestion of the Eustachian tube, thereby, make your child feel more comfortable during flying. Taking medication (prescribed by the doctor) that helps clear the mucus in advance of a flight will help prevent ear pain when flying
Use earplugs:If your child has some issues that restrict the Eustachian tube from opening, it will be beneficial to use ear-pressure-regulating earplugs. Earplugs, which are available in both child and adult sizes, if inserted correctly, will slow down the rate of air pressure change inside the ear. You should make your child wear it before the door of the aircraft is closed, and, preferably leave them throughout flying. For a long journey, you can remove them once you've reached the cruising altitude. However, put them back before the plane starts to descend and don't take them out until the doors are opened
Use eucalyptus oil:For older children, if they have cold or respiratory issues that could congest the Eustachian tube, inhaling eucalyptus oil when the plane takes off or descends will help. Just place a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a hankie or face cloth and keep it in a zip lock. Give it to the child and ask them to breathe the vapor through the nose and breathe out through the mouth. The block in the nose will open this way
Give medicines in advance:Give your child ibuprofen before the flight if she has severe ear pain while flying
Drink up:Have your child drink lots of water. Keeping well hydrated before and during a flight helps to keep the Eustachian tubes clear as it will prevent the nasal mucus getting thicker. Swallowing helps with the opening of the tube. Stick to water though, as other caffeine drinks can be dehydrating. Encourage your child to sip the water regularly throughout the flight
Keep your child awake:During sleep, the child will not swallow often. Therefore, it will be harder to keep the air pressure in the middle ear stable
Give your child something to suck on:The pressure changes in the cabin are likely to be greatest-during takeoff and initial descent. During this time depending on the age of the child, give him
- A chewing gum/ lollipop to suck
- Offer him a bottle or breast milk
- Give him a pacifier
Whatever you give to suck, remember to hold or make your child sit in an upright position.
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