So you’re all stoked about your vacation, with an intense thrill rush through you as you board the plane for that long awaited getaway. A little after take-off, you lean forward to exchange a few words with your partner but all you hear is a small crackle. You swallow hard to hear carefully what it was but it’s just another, louder crackle.. and.. you’re temporarily deaf. Sound familiar? (excuse the pun)
It’s not uncommon to suffer from blocked ears when flying. It happens to me all the time. Sometimes it may just lead to a minor earache. Don’t let these mild annoyances dampen your spirit: it’s just temporary with easy ways to overcome it.
How do the crackles start? The ear is made up of three parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The middle ear is able to detect a change in air pressure. And when there’s a difference in air pressure on either side of the outer and middle ear, small air bubbles enter through the Eustachian tube. So the crackles you hear are actually the small air bubbles. To equalise the air pressure, the Eustachian tube has to open frequently.
How can we get rid of crackles? Easy. Simply indulge in the small pleasures of life: suck on a sweet, chew on a stick of gum or treat yourself to a drink. The movement and swallowing involved open up the passageways, allowing the air bubbles to pop.The Eustachian tube is then able to maintain balance.
If the crackles are still there (the devil likes to lurk), try out the Valsalva Maneuver. All you have to do is take in a deep breath, hold your nostrils together while keeping your mouth closed and attempt to exhale. You got it right if you hear a loud pop. If you’re prone to suffering from this very often, antihistamines and decongestant nasal sprays help overcome them. Speak to your GP.
Otherwise, I suggest you marvel at your destination in silence. Peace and quiet are at times hard to come by…