Summer has already set in and along with it comes the holiday season. Once the exams are over most families make plans to go on a vacation. These plans often include air travel or going to a hill station on a high altitude. This is why today I am writing about a common problem that occurs during air travel or at a high altitude.

If you have traveled by an airplane before you will be familiar with the effect it has on your ears. You feel the pressure build up and then your ears pop especially during landing. Normally once you have landed the pressure in the ears settles down and no discomfort or pain is experienced. However some people develop ear problems like temporary hearing loss and pain during an air flight and the symptoms do not go away even on landing. This problem is then known as Airplane ear.

To understand why this problem takes place you have to first understand the normal working of the ear and how it equalizes the pressure inside. There is a small tube, which connects the back of your nose to the middle ear. Air enters from the back of the nose through this tube to the middle ear. This small air bubble is then absorbed by the membranous lining of the middle ear and this process keeps happening in order to maintain equal pressure on both sides of the eardrum. If the air pressure is not equal on both sides then the ear feels blocked. This problem occurs especially when the Eustachian tube is blocked.


The Eustachian tube is a very small narrow tube as thin as a pencil lead, which connects the back of the nose to the middle ear. This tube can easily get blocked by a number of reasons. The most common cause is cold and sinusitis. A nasal allergy or a throat infection can also cause this problem.
Once the Eustachian tube is blocked the pressure in the middle ear cannot be equalized. This is because a vacuum is created which sucks the eardrum inward stretching it. This stretched eardrum cannot vibrate so hearing becomes hard and difficult. If this blockage continues, fluid will build up which causes more problems.


When you are traveling by air the changes in the air pressure are rapid. In order to maintain the equal pressure on either side of the eardrum the Eustachian tube has to open often and wide enough. This is especially necessary while landing where you are going from a low atmospheric pressure to higher pressure on land. If for some reason the opening of the Eustachian tube is blocked then the necessary adjustments cannot take place and the person experiences symptoms of Airplane Ear.


This problem can occur in either one ear or in both.
1. Discomfort is the normally the first symptom experienced. If this discomfort continues then pain may set in.
2. There is a sense or feeling of fullness or stuffiness in the ear.
3. The patient may experience a slight hearing loss. But if severe then the hearing loss can be quite marked.
4. Ringing in the ear or tinnitus is another symptom of Airplane ear.
5. If the blockage continues then fluid may build up in the middle ear. If severe then there may bleeding from the affected ear.
6. Occasionally the patient might have symptoms of dizziness.


Here are a few handy ways in which you can prevent Airplane ear from occurring.
1. If you have a cold or sinus infection try and postpone your flight till you are better. Even if it is just a nasal allergy or throat infection do not take it lightly and avoid flying till you are cured.
2. If you have had ear problems in the past take the advice of your doctor before flying.
3. During take off and landing keep sucking on a sweet or chew gum. This encourages swallowing which helps keep the Eustachian tube open. Yawning is another effective way to keep the tube open.
4. If you are traveling with a child or infant it is best to make them drink water or other fluids while take off and landing. Make sure that they are free from cold or other upper respiratory tract infections.
5. Do not allow your child or baby to sleep especially during landing because they will not swallow and the ears may get blocked.
6. Drink plenty of water during a long flight otherwise dehydration sets in. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages, which cause dehydration.


If your ears are blocked or plugged during a flight or after here is something you can do to try clearing them.
1. try to shut your nose completely by pinching the nostrils shut with the help of your thumb and index finger.
2. take a big gulp of air into your mouth.
3. then using your cheek and throat muscles try to gently force the air into the back of the nose. You should feel as if you are trying to blow your thumb and index finger off your nostrils.
If you hear a pop in your ears then this means that you have managed to clear them. If not then you might need medical help.


There are several over the counter decongestants and anti-allergic drugs available in chemist shops which will give immediate temporary relief and can be taken before a flight but what people do not realize is that these have a tremendous rebound effect if used regularly. That means that though they give relief in the longer run they cause more severe blockage and make the person more prone to Airplane ear. So what is the correct treatment and how does one treat this problem?

The root underlining cause should be treated correctly. Allergies, colds, nose blocks, respiratory infections should be cured completely. Homoeopathy has the capacity and potential to cure all of these and hence prevent ear problems during a flight or at high altitude.


As stated earlier it is essential to treat the cause that is the allergies, colds, sinusitis etc… that make the individual susceptible to Airplane ear. There are a vast number of homoeopathic drugs which help deal with these problems depending on the symptoms and signs of the patient. Here are a few excellent remedies, which help to cure this condition.


A 30 year old woman came to my clinic with a problem saying that she felt a sensation of fullness in her ears, as if they were stuffed. Sometimes she would also experience a mild loss of hearing due to this. When asked how this problem first started she told me that it began after taking a flight. On asking what makes her feel better she told me only open air made her feel better. On further case taking I learnt that she was a very mild person who cried very easily.
All these symptoms are characteristic of this remedy where the person is susceptible to changes in atmosphere. A Pulsatilla personality is also a thirstless person, they hardly drink any water. Occassionally there might be a thick bland discharge from the ear and pain, which radiates to the face in ear troubles.
Pulsatilla 200, 5 pills 4 times a day helped cure this patients ear problems.


This is an excellent remedy for chronic ear, nose and throat problems. These patients are highly susceptible to cold. They normally affected by cold drafts of air, bathing with cold water, getting the hair wet etc… they are also affected by changes in weather. In these chronic cases there is usually a discharge from the affected ear. This discharge is very foul and offensive. The ear feels blocked and stuffed and this symptom is relieved when the person tries to yawn or swallow. There is a difficulty in hearing and sometimes the patient even complaints of a hissing sound in the ear.
Contrary to Pulsatilla the Silicea patient gets great relief from warm room. They like to cover their heads as it gives relief.

Silicea 200, 5 pills 4 times a day will help remove these chronic conditions.


This is one of Dr. Schuessler's Biochemic remedy. But for problems like Airplane ear or Barotrauma we use it in a Homoeopathic way as it has proven to be very effective. It is especially useful where the discharge is yellow in colour. If the patient presents with symptoms like what is written in Pulsatilla but even after giving Pulsatilla the patient does not get cured then it this remedy should be thought of. A kali suph patient also cannot tolerate a warm closed room as it aggravates his ear problems. They cannot tolerate noise which because of the sensitivity of the ears. Sometimes they lose their hearing temporarily which is known as Eustachian deafness.

Kali Suph 200, 5 pills 4 times a day will bring back the hearing and cure the eustachian problems.

Even though normally a homoeopath will not treat with specific remedies for specific conditions, at times when there are no peculiar symptoms individualizing the patient then these are used to give relief.
There are two wonderful remedies like that for this ear condition too. If the cause of Airplane ear is directly the result of change in air pressure and no other underlying cause is found these can be given to give relief to the patient.


This remedy is prescribed especially if the right ear is affected. The patient experiences a sharp shooting pain in his right ear while landing then give him Merc-I-F, 5 pills in repeated doses.


If the left ear is affected then this remedy should be thought of. This remedy is very effective when the patient says that the tube feels closed and then opens with a pop. Merc-I-R , 5 pills repeated often will give great relief.

Please do not use this article to self-medicate yourself and your family for this problem. It is not advisable and can be dangerous especially in case of a child. Please consult your Physician.

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