You are about to land in Rome, at the end of a long flight, ready to enjoy the city tours and the local Dolce Vita.
You are tired and sleepy and you suddenly notice that your ear feels clogged and muffled.
You wait for that familiar “pop” that won’t come.
Have you ever wondered what part of your body is responsible for this process?
Now you know, it’s your Eustachian tube.
The Eustachian tube connects the inside of the ear to the back of the throat and nose.
Its job is to regulate the air pressure from outside and inside the ear, preventing the eardrum from bulging in or out.
When it does its job it’s like magic: no ear pressure, no crackling sounds.
When the Eustachian tube is not functioning properly and there is a sudden change in the air pressure, there can be severe ear pain and possibly hearing loss.
Altitude and air pressure changes are just a trigger.
The causes of the problem generally stem from respiratory illnesses.
Common cold with runny nose, sinusitis, may cause fluids and secretions to be blocked inside the Eustachian tube.
The tube becomes inflamed and sticky and soon air is trapped and cannot force its way out of the middle ear
A preventive treatment is based on a balanced use of nose sprays, decongestants and oral antihistamines prior to flying.
These medications can be found at any pharmacy but there are other tricks to help you popping your ears after a flight.
In some cases, medical treatment is required.
If you have already planned a flight and have severe pain even on the ground, you should schedule a visit with an ENT specialist to make sure you are not going to damage your eardrums.
If your condition does not allow you to fly safely, it’s always better to change traveling plans. The doctor can issue an “unfit to fly” certificate to use for insurance refund claim purposes.
The most important part is to be aware of your condition and assess in time the potential damage to the ear.
So next time you are flying over Rome, besides trying to spot the Coliseum, take a minute to listen to what your ears are trying to tell you with their pop!
The generosity of mankind is unmeasurable. Seriously. During these mirthless times, DoctorsinItaly received a large number of thoughtful, heartwarming messages from all over the world
For one who wishes to be compliant with the rules and up to date on Covid-19 in Italy, finding trusted sources is not an easy