Flying with Eustachian Tube Inflammation/Dysfunction

Discussion in 'Support' started by Kaelon, Jan 7, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      The Tinnitus that I've had for the past 9 weeks is, most likely, the cause of inflammation and/or infection in my Eustachian tubes. I am responding very well to antibiotics and steroids (amoxicillin 500mg 3x a day, prednisone 50mg daily tapering down to 10 -- over a 3 week period), and now on Day 5 of this regimen, find my Tinnitus down to a volume of 1/10 or 2/10 at the worst. I feel that I am definitely getting better.

      However, I have a 90 min. flight next week for work with a quick turn-around the following day. I've been reading stories here about how some people feel that barotrauma caused or made their Tinnitus much worse, and honestly, this has me worried.

      My condition is almost certainly being caused by sinus and/or ear congestion that has exacerbated my Eustachian tubes (preventing me from easily clearing/popping my ears), possibly in response to allergens or other aggravating factors. I don't want a flight, even if it's only 90 mins from Boston to DC and back, to really mess up my recovery -- or worse yet, cause more damage.

      What would you do in my shoes? Are there any precautions that I should be taking? Is my concern over potential barotrauma here misplaced? Any help, thoughts, or support you can offer would be much appreciated.

      Thanks!
       
    2. Jesse Pinkman

      Jesse Pinkman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      Drive
       
    3. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      Thanks, Jesse. Do you think it's really that straight-forward? The drive is pretty insane, and a train ride is 10+ hours, vs. a 90 min jaunt. If there's an alternative here that allows me to fly while also protecting my ears and preventing damage, I would really like to understand the risks/benefits with going that route.
       
    4. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      Hey @Kaelon, I'm in the same boat as you-a flight coming up fairly soon. However I can say that I've flown with extreme congestion in the past and while it's unpleasant, the most unpleasant part is the descent and the physical part of it usually clears up with some yawns/chewing, etc., on the way down or on the ground shortly thereafter. If you are not overly congested and can "clear" your ears OK right now, you should be fine. And from what I've read, most accounts of people flying with Tinnitus seem to be fine. I'm planning on trying the Earplane ear plugs for when I fly next--they supposedly work to make the ups and downs in the plane not as extreme for your ears. Not sure how well they really work but maybe worth a try.
       
    5. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      Thanks, @marqualler!

      I'm kind-of / sort-of able to clear my ears. If I yawn, I hear a cracking and a slight popping sound -- and I get momentary relief -- but it congests up right again as soon as I stop the popping action. I absolutely do not do the valsalva maneuver (blowing air while pinching your nose) because even though it technically does the same thing as trying to yawn, it can (unlike yawning) cause membrane damage.

      Have you flown with extreme congestion and your T? How did you deal it go, and what should I expect? I refuse to let my Tinnitus change the way I live my life, but I also don't want to hurt myself.
       
    6. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      I have not flown post-T yet, @Kaelon -- I am scheduled to for a family vacation in mid-February. But from what I've read, the T part of flying doesn't really matter as much for flying (more the noise if your T is reactive to sound). Yeah I try to avoide valsalva as well while flying. You might want to try Sudafed and keep irrigating your sinuses with the Neti Pot for the next week before flying. Otherwise if you are really concerned, I would also consider taking a train or driving. My first run-in with real e-tube issues post-flying came in 2006 when a flight with a sinus infection left my ears feeling plugged for a couple weeks. It was no fun for sure!
       
    7. Rube
      Fine

      Rube Member Benefactor

      Location:
      U.S.A
      Tinnitus Since:
      7/2014
      Take the train, bus or drive. Seriously is it worth taking the risk while you are still working out your etd issues?
      I go to see my gf upstate, for the time being I'm not taking chances, I Do the 7 hour drive...
       
    8. LadyDi
      Busy

      LadyDi Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Barotrauma/airplane
      Hi, @Kaelon: You may notice the cause listed on my profile box here is: "barotrauma/airplane." My flight was a transatlantic one, so much longer than yours. But the bottom line is a sinus infection, coupled with ETD, gave me tinnitus. Period. I have written extensively about flying and will paste it in my main post below. At the very least, I suggest you follow the flight protocol I outline. But if it was me? I would drive.

      Below is a follow-up post from earlier this year, plus the original post.

      I have posted (or basically, re-posted a long thing I wrote on flying awhile ago) several times, because this question keeps coming up. Its a biggie for me, as barotrauma that happened during a long air flight caused my tinnitus. I have high-frequency T, not low, but you mainly want to protect your ears from the noise (which isn't overwhelming, but enough to require some protection.) Its usually quieter towards the front of the plane, if you have a choice.

      Also, sounds like you have pressure/pain issues with your ears, as I do/did.
      If you are worried about eustachian tube dysfunction, have what is called a tympanic test from an ENT within a week before you leave. Will show if your tubes are working properly.

      And you can buy Earplanes at any drug store, or even at airports (although I would get them before I went to the airport). READ THE BOX first. There are very specific instructions on when to put them in and take them out. I used mine on the both the ascent and descent. Also, be aware that Earplanes will give you some protection from noise... about 20 db. But you will be more comfortable if you take them out at cruising altitude and put in foam plugs.


      Here is the rest of my original post:

      There is an extensive thread already here at TT on flying:

      Flying:
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/flying-tinnitus.1001/page-2#post-21420

      FYI: I flew recently and was scared witless, given I got tinnitus through barotrauma on a long flight. Robert Fahey, on this thread, gives a great piece of advice that I followed: Keep your mouth WIDE open during the descent, as it forces open your eustachian tubes. Yeah, you look pretty silly. You can explain what is happening to the person sitting next to you or not. :)

      Also: I went to the ENT a week before my flight and had both my E.tube function and my sinuses checked, to make sure I didn't have a hidden infection. I then dried my head out completely with Sudafed (decongestant) beginning 36 hours in advance. Dose yourself per directions on the package (I took one pill every 12 hours). Then, I used Afrin nasal spray about 30 minutes before take off and again as descent began.

      And: I used Earplanes plugs, as someone else here suggested. Follow the directions on the box; read them in advance. You take the Earplanes out when you reach cruising altitude and then can pop in foam plugs and/or use noise cancelling headphones to cut the noise from the plane. Put the plugs back in about 30 minutes/one hour before descent. Again, follow directions on the box. However, I think it did say to put them in an hour before descent, which doesn't make sense on a short flight. My flight was two hours and I put them in about 30-40 minutes before descent. Do not take the Earplanes out until the plane lands, is at the gate and the cabin door is opened, which is when the plane will completely equalize. Don't freak out if your ears hurt while the Earplanes are in... they are just a little uncomfortable. If you have small ear canals, like I do, buy the ones for kids.

      Finally, if you really are freaked out about flying, consider asking your doctor for just a couple anti-anxiety meds to calm you down. A .25 mg Xanax did it for me; it's not enough to knock you out and asking for only two pills, one for the flight over and one back, should not cause the physician any worries. Or you, for that matter. Or if you are a natural meds person, find a natural relaxing supplement.

      By the way: The above routine might be a little more than you need if you are not pressure sensitive, as I am. But I will tell you it worked for me.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    9. Marlene
      English

      Marlene Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Poole Dorset England
      Tinnitus Since:
      July 1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Bacterial virus
      With Sudafed if on any meds for high blood pressure don't use ,it raise blood pressure .Kaelon .
      I'm in same situation sat here. I've got what I say is ETD plus Rhinitis ,been having really bad few weeks with this .cant recall if you have this balance I have ,just make sure you drink plenty water ,and suck on sweets on flights .
      Think weather hurts mine far more ,or if under par .
      As we often say there's T ,and T with add on problems like the sinuses .makes any given day lot worse .
      Hope those couple days work out well for you .
       

Share This Page

Loading...
If you have ringing ears then you've come to the right place. We are a friendly tinnitus support board, dedicated to helping you discuss and understand what tinnitus treatments may work for you.