TT: Before air travel, make sure your nose is not congested

Woman who appears to have a stuffy nose, on a winter's snowy day
Get rid of a congested nose before you hop on a plane (Photo by Pexels from Pixabay)

Today’s Tip (this will become a series as TT, to be published every now and then) is courtesy of my ENT doctor, whom I saw a few hours ago to have my earwax removed. As we got to talking, I mentioned having pain in my left ear the last time I was on a plane, when the pilot landed the plane rather abruptly.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health practitioner, and no part of This Blog, or the websites and products I mention and link to on This Blog, is intended as professional medical or health advice, and should not be considered as such. Here are my Full Terms and Conditions.

My doctor asked me if I’d had a congested nose at the time. Apparently a stuffy nose can actually damage the ears on account of the change in pressure when a plane takes off or lands. She suggested a nasal spray or some cold medicine with pseudoephedrine (a nasal/sinus decongestant) if this happens again. So far, good to know. BUT be careful with decongestants and nasal sprays. The former are not advised if you’re pregnant or have certain conditions, and nasal sprays may work against decongestion if you use them several days in a row (and they can also cause an addiction). See this article from the Mayo Clinic for more details on all this and on airplane ear in general. Among other things, they recommend swallowing and yawning, along with the Valsalva maneuver, during takeoff and landing. The Valsalva maneuver is done by forcing air down your nose with the nose pinched shut and your mouse closed. Talking also helps (to open the eustachian tubes).

Enjoy your flights and have a lovely summer!

To a happier, healthier life,


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