Can You Fly With An Ear Infection

Traveling is exciting, but if you’re hit with an ear infection, the thought of getting on a plane can make you uneasy. Ear infections can turn air travel into a painful ordeal due to pressure changes inside the cabin.

Our blog will dive into whether it’s safe to fly with an ear infection and offer tips for easing discomfort so you can reach your destination more comfortably. Let’s take off and explore together!

Key Takeaways

  • Ear infections can make flying painful because of pressure changes in the cabin.
  • Chewing gum, using nasal sprays or decongestants, and staying hydrated help balance ear pressure during a flight.
  • Flying with an infected ear can lead to serious problems like intense pain or hearing loss. Always talk to a doctor before you fly if you have an infection.
  • For kids, it’s important for them to swallow often on flights. Have them drink water, chew on something, or use a pacifier during takeoff and landing.
  • If your ears hurt when flying, keep your hearing aid on and teach older children how to pop their ears safely.

Understanding Ear Infections and Air Travel

A Close-Up Photo Of Earplugs With An Airplane Window In The Background.

When considering whether to board a plane with an ear infection, it’s vital to grasp how the pressurized cabin environment can impact your already sensitive middle ears. Your eustachian tubes play a crucial role in pressure equalization during flight; however, if they’re inflamed or blocked due to an infection, you might face heightened discomfort—or more significant health risks—when thousands of feet above ground.

Flying and Its Effects on the Ears

A Passenger Yawns And Swallows During Takeoff In An Airplane Interior With A Bustling Atmosphere.

Air travel messes with your ears, especially during takeoff and landing. Your eustachian tubes work hard to keep the pressure even in your middle ear. But sometimes, they get sluggish or blocked.

Imagine a tiny balloon inside your ear trying to adjust to the cabin pressure but getting stuck—that’s what’s happening.

Pressure changes fast in an airplane, and if you’ve ever felt that weird ear popping sensation, you know it firsthand. Kids often have it rougher; their smaller eustachian tubes can struggle more with balance.

Ear barotrauma is no joke—you don’t want that kind of pain spoiling your trip! Think about bringing gum or hard candy to chew on; it can help those stubborn ears pop and bring relief faster than you might think.

Can You Fly With An Ear Infection?

A Pair Of Earplugs Surrounded By Travel Essentials On An Airplane Window Seat.

You might wonder if it’s okay to board a plane with an ear infection. The truth is, it can be risky. Blocked Eustachian tubes make flying uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Imagine feeling sharp ear pain or hearing muffled sounds as you climb higher into the sky—these are signs of trouble for your ears.

Children face more risk since their Eustachian tubes are smaller.

Doctors often give specific medical advice before flight travel with an ear condition like swimmer’s ear or a severe infection. They may suggest using nasal spray or taking decongestants to help clear your ears during takeoff and landing.

Ear plugs also offer some relief by keeping air pressure changes gentle on your eardrums. In serious cases, like when there’s fluid build-up leading to tinnitus, they might even advise against flying until things improve.

Remember that health insurance companies usually cover such urgent consultations, so check yours if you’re worried about costs before making any decisions related to flying with an ear infection.

Risks and Precautions When Flying with an Ear Infection

A Pair Of Earplugs And A Bottle Of Pain Relief Medication On An Airplane Tray Table.

Embarking on a journey with an ear infection may seem like no big deal, but the reality is that it’s not just about discomfort—it’s about safety. The cabin’s pressurized environment can exacerbate ear pain and potentially lead to more severe complications; therefore, understanding the risks and taking appropriate precautions is vital for your health.

Whether it involves consulting with your doctor or packing extra pain relief, being prepared can make all the difference in safeguarding your ears while up in the air.

How to Minimize Discomfort During Flight

A Child With A Hearing Aid Sips Water On An Airplane.

Flying with an ear infection can be tough. Here’s how to stay comfortable up in the air:

  • Use decongestants or nasal sprays before your flight. They shrink the swollen membranes and make it easier for your ears to adjust.
  • Pop in some chewing gum or suck on hard candy as you ascend and descend. This encourages more swallowing, which helps balance the pressure in your ears.
  • Keep kids hydrated, but stick to water or noncaffeinated drinks. More fluids mean more swallowing – a good thing for their little ears.
  • For babies, bottle – feeding or breastfeeding during takeoff and landing works wonders. The sucking motion is great for their ear pressure.
  • Make sure children are awake when the plane goes up and comes down. Sleeping kids don’t swallow often, which can lead to pain and pressure.
  • Show older children how to “pop” their ears safely. Teach them to hold their nose, close their mouth, and then gently blow to regulate ear pressure.
  • If you’re using a hearing aid, keep it turned on while flying. It can help you better deal with the changes in cabin pressure.
  • Pack a favorite toy or pacifier for infants – anything they can suck on helps maintain equal ear pressure during flight changes.


A Close-Up Photo Of An Airplane Window With Earplugs, Decongestant, And Diverse Passengers.

If you have an ear infection, think twice before getting on a plane. The risks are real—ear pain, vertigo, even hearing loss may wait for you up in the skies. Always chat with your doctor first; they’ll know if it’s safe for you to fly.

Remember those tips: decongestants and chewing gum could be your best friends during takeoff and landing. Your ears will thank you for being careful!


1. Is it safe to fly on a plane if I have an ear infection?

Flying with an ear infection, like otitis externa or middle ear issues, isn’t banned—but caution is key! The pressurized cabin can lead to discomfort and even temporary hearing problems due to challenges in equalizing pressure in your ears.

2. Will my ear pop during the flight if I’m sick?

Yes, ears often pop on passenger aircraft because of the changes in air pressure; however, when you’re ill—especially with a cold—you might feel extra pain or have muffled hearing. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy might help!

3. What should I do before flying with an illness affecting my ears?

Consulting your doctor is a wise move—better safe than sorry, right? They’ll know if conditions like vertigo or fever from your infection could make flying risky for you.

4. Can having heart disease affect my ability to fly with an ear infection?

Absolutely—it’s essential to consider all medical conditions together. With heart disease added into the mix, that inflight pressure change could be more intense for you. Always get professional advice before taking off.

5. What happens if there’s serious ear trouble during a flight – like signs of a ruptured eardrum?

Hearing damage needs immediate attention; don’t take any chances! If symptoms point toward something severe such as hearing loss—a sign of possibly ruptured eardrums—or acute pain arises mid-flight, let the crew know straight away so they can help you find care upon landing.