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MarshaL Sep 30th, 2005 04:52 PM

Barotrauma
 
I haven't been on this website for awhile but would love to know if this has ever happened to any other Fodorites. In mid-August, I became sick while on vacation and flew home with a cold. Once we hit cloud level, the pressure in my ears was so intense and painful that I fainted (this has never happened before). While the pain subsided, the pressure contined for the last five weeks and my hearing was greatly reduced; it felt like I was constantly underwater. Two ENT visits and one course of medication later, it became clear that it wasn't going to go away. I had a myringotomy this morning -surgery to drain the fluid from the eardrum and insert a tube in the ear canal. It was a very easy procedure but nonetheless, not something I would want to do again.
How will I ever fly again?

KathrynT Sep 30th, 2005 05:06 PM

Hi MarshaL,

So sorry to hear about your ear troubles --it does not sound pleasant at all!

I would, of course, discuss this with your doctor but it seems logical this was all brought on by the cold as your ears likely become very congested from that. I would hope in the future if you fly feeling well you will be fine (I assume you have flown before without any difficulties.) You might talk with your doctor about taking decongestants as a precaution before your next trip. Good luck!

Scarlett Sep 30th, 2005 07:37 PM

Oh you poor thing!
I know if you had been sick before you left, your doctor would have told you not to fly.
The best thing to do is take decongestants and use Afrin when flying, if you have any sort of sinus trouble .. if you must fly.
My niece had to have those tubes in her ears, they do fly, they just make sure there are no sinus problems going on at the time of flying.

love2go2 Oct 1st, 2005 01:48 AM

Those tubes are presuure equalizing tubes and usually extruded by themselves. While in place and flying you will not have the need to "pop" your ears during takeoff and landing. Some people who have to fly and have fluid have this procedure done to avoid the pain. Did you have both ears done? If so, I would definitely prescribe another trip to reassure yourself you will be not have a problem with them. P.S. keep the water out of them. Maybe go to NY

Sue_xx_yy Oct 1st, 2005 05:25 AM

I had this happen when I, too, had to fly with a cold. In my case the eardrum actually ruptured - which sounds worse than it was (the pain beforehand was what was bad - wish I could have fainted, myself!)

My eardrum healed and I've flown several times since, even once when I was mildly congested. Chances are you will be able to, too, although I understand your apprehension - I was scared to death the first time I flew. You might want to try Flonase (a steroid nasal spray) that also helps with congestion - ask your doctor. I use it prior to takeoff and when I have ear problems at other times. It seems to help with the tendency of my ear to 'block' in response to colds, allergens, etc. Ideally, you need to use it for several days in advance prior to a flight, or whenever you are having ear problems.

A bit of dark humour: when the flight attendants realized what was happening, one of them brought a hot towel and a cup of hot water (breathing in the steam, she told me, would help); this was very kind of her, and I was grateful. However another attendant admonished me - and bear in mind we were at 33,000 feet at the time: "You should never fly with a cold. You had this happen on takeoff? Landing is worse!"

I asked her for the nearest exit, so as to avoid landing. :)

MarshaL Oct 3rd, 2005 05:23 PM

Sue,
While I'm certainly not happy to hear that you had to experience this too, it is good to know that I'm not the only one this happened to. Do you use Flonaise prior to every flight or just if you have a cold? Is it a prescription medication or otc? I only had surgery on my right ear so I would still be susceptible to this happening in the left ear until the tube falls out.

Sue_xx_yy Oct 5th, 2005 07:02 PM

Sorry for delay in reply.

If my ear/nose isn't otherwise giving me problems, I pack the Flonase but generally use only a nasal moisturizing spray and drink lots of water.

Where I live the Flonase is by prescription only.

Take heart, in all likelihood you won't repeat the experience.

MarshaL Feb 20th, 2006 04:22 PM

I just looked back at my original post from last September. Happily, my hearing has been completely restored since the myringotomy. I will be flying again in a few weeks for the first time since it happened. I don't have a cold now but, of course, I didn't have one when I flew OUT the last time either; it happened while on vacation. Any other words of encouragement? I keep remembering the pain. Someone above said to start spraying Flonase days before the trip (?) Thanks!

dwooddon Feb 20th, 2006 04:40 PM

I would either consult an ear specialist or a flight examiner rated doctor. They would be in a much better situation to give you advice than all us armchair experts. The flight examiner rated MD's are specially trained and authorized to provide physical examinations and care to professional pilots so they deal with these sorts of issues on a regular basis.


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