Flying & Cabin Pressure/Noise — Safety for Tinnitus Patient?

Discussion in 'Dr. Stephen Nagler (MD)' started by Deniseh, Feb 12, 2020.

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    1. Deniseh

      Deniseh Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Possibly b12/folic acid deficiency and GERD
      Hi Dr Nagler,

      Thank you from Scotland for all the work you do on this forum.

      I am going to be flying at the end of this month (February) to sunny Gran Canaria :) this is my first time since getting tinnitus last August, I also have some ET issues as well like popping/blocking etc, normally I can clear this by massaging from behind my ear to under my jaw and this clears the fluid build up.

      As you can imagine I am a bit nervous about flying in regards to cabin pressure/noise etc so wanted to know if you have any hints or tips that might make it a bit more comfortable.

      Kind Regards,


      BTW it’s only a 4 hour flight from the UK so not long haul.
    2. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member Clinician Benefactor

      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Hello @Deniseh ... and thank you for your question.

      Cabin pressure and noise are two separate issues. And in each instance the rules for those with tinnitus are the same as those for who do not have tinnitus.

      First noise. Whether or not you are in a plane, if the noise in the environment is loud enough that you must raise your own voice in order to be heard by a person next to you, then (tinnitus or no tinnitus) you should either use ear protection or leave the room. Since it is generally not such a good idea to leave the room when you are the cabin of an airplane, the solution would be earplugs, earmuffs, noise cancellation headphones, or the like. Will it absolutely prevent an exacerbation of your tinnitus? No. But it will prevent noise-induced auditory damage, and any exacerbation of tinnitus can be expected to be temporary.

      In terms of cabin pressure, there is no need to do anything if the changes in cabin pressure during flight do not cause any discomfort. If you do typically experience discomfort with a change in cabin pressure (or if you wish to be extra cautious), then I recommend checking with your doctor about using a decongestant or antihistamine prior to flight, possibly even a nasal spray. I also strongly recommend using EarPlanes, which are earplugs with filters that are readily available at most drug stores, pharmacies, and on-line resources like Amazon.

      EarPlanes come in adult and child sizes. You insert them in your ears prior to takeoff, remove them at altitude if you wish, re-insert them upon initiation of descent, and remove them after the cabin door has opened at the terminal. If you leave them in all during the flight, they can function quite nicely as earplugs to avoid the noise-induced auditory damage I mentioned above. Once again, the use of EarPlanes will not totally prevent an exacerbation of tinnitus, but they markedly reduce discomfort from pressure changes, and any exacerbation of tinnitus can be expected to be temporary.

      Have a great trip to Gran Canaria!

      Stephen M. Nagler, M.D.
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