Flying after inner ear surgery

Old May 27th, 2004, 12:17 PM
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Flying after inner ear surgery

My Mom had an acoustic neuroma back in the early 80's. It touched her brain and the 7th and 8th nerves. Her facial nerve was unaffected by the (successful) surgery, but her hearing nerve was severed. She has suffered tinitus in the deaf ear ever since and experiences equilibrium problems. Both have improved in the intervening years, but are still present.

She has never flown. Not before '82 because she and my Dad were very frugal, and not now (after frugality has paid its dividends in retirement) because she fears the pressurization changes in the cabin might be painful, the equilibrium might be a problem(naseua), she's heard horror stories of people bursting eardrums on flights and she's VERY protective of the one good ear.

I'd like to allay her fears, but I have on one or two occasions had terrible ear pain during a descent to land.

Is there anyone out there who has flown after a similar surgery? I'd greatly appreciate a personal annecdote.

thanks
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Old May 27th, 2004, 12:45 PM
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Don't ask complete strangers medical questions, ASK A DOCTOR!!!!!!!
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Old May 27th, 2004, 12:55 PM
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Well, I have that much sense. Her doctor said it should not be a problem, but then added some vague "but you never know" type comment.

That's why I'm interested in personnal experiences. Thanks for your helpful response.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 12:58 PM
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I'm sure that LitespeedChick is not going to advise her Mom to fly or not, based on what she hears on this forum...... She just wants to know if someone knows of a similar situation, right, LitespeedChick?

I have actually known a couple of people who flew when they had an ear infection, with congestion, and did indeed suffer a burst eardrum (that healed fine, afterward.) I wouldn't think it would hurt your Mother's good ear to fly, assuming she had no congestion. But if she has a balance problem, the plane movements and pressure-changes might aggravate. (I can speak from experience in that area.....) I hope you can get some solid advice, and have a wonderful flight somewhere with your Mom!
 
Old May 27th, 2004, 01:28 PM
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Last year, I suddenly (and unexplainably) lost 70% of the hearing in one ear and gained tinitus. I did regain some hearing, without any surgery. I was scared to death to fly in case I lost my "good" ear or ruptured an eardrum.

However, I've since flown roundtrip cross country twice with absolutely no problems. Obviously, your mom's condition was more serious than mine, but if it was me -- I'd fly.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 02:44 PM
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Chick,

My daughter had 3 sets of ear tubes and my son 4; obviously not nearly as serious as your mom's, but a challenge none the less.

They both have had some ear pain ranging from mild to outright painful--but again--a very different problem than your mom's.

Our pediatrician advised us to give them an antihistimine one half hour before we fly (not the non-drowsy type). For long flights we have them use a 12-hour spray. It helps them tremendously. Chewing gum, and even yawning during taking and the first few minutes helps relieve the pressure as well.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 02:49 PM
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I'd get a second even third or fourth opinion if you need to because the doc's opinion is vague.

You need solid advice.

I flew to Acapulco about five years ago with friends and the pilot couldn't get the cabin pressure correct.

I suffered a black eye (popped blood vessel) and my dear friend had BOTH eardrums burst.
 
Old May 27th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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GoTravel, what kind of aircraft was that? How scary!
 
Old May 27th, 2004, 03:18 PM
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Probably a 727 but it was an older plane.

I later found out that one of the problems with older planes is that the rubber that seals the doors gets old and stiff making it harder to create an airtight seal.
 
Old May 27th, 2004, 03:20 PM
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We always take and give the kids decongestant full dose 1 hour before flying. Not worth the pain risk if you have a mild head cold and don't realize. You'll think you are having an aneurysm and dying if you have a clogged sinus somewhere and fly. Absolutely Awful.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 03:24 PM
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sorry not sure if that applies to ears generally but it does seem to with us. Ask doc. Is there a specific ear decongestant? Ha.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 03:44 PM
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Thanks, GoTravel for your concurrence. Yes, if you don't believe/trust your doctor's advice, get a second opinion from ANOTHER DOCTOR.
I infer, Litespeed_Chick, that your response to me was sarcastic. I'm sorry you don't appreciate my well meaning advice. Frankly, I still think it's the best advice!
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Old May 27th, 2004, 03:57 PM
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LC,
How nice of you to do this for your mom. If I were you, I'd call the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles, the leading research center in the US, perhaps the world, for all things relating to the ears/auditory system. You might be able to arrange a telephone consultation with one of their very skilled otologists and be able to get a definite answer as to whether or not it would be OK for your mom to fly. I would trust their opinion above all other otologists.
Hope they can help.

House Ear Institute
(213) 483-4431
www.hei.org
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Old May 27th, 2004, 07:25 PM
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I'm reading this thread with great interest since my husband lost all the hearing in one ear six months ago and we are concerned about injuring his "good" ear on our upcoming flight to Hawaii. His specialist told him not to worry about it. But I can understand Litespeed's concern, the same I feel for my husband. Perhaps you will find this website helpful:

http://www.rnid.org.uk/html/factshee...nd_the_ear.htm
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Old May 27th, 2004, 09:14 PM
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A bit of different situation but we got a similar "it will probably be okay" response from our doctor. Not terribly reassuring.
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Old May 27th, 2004, 09:33 PM
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My brother-in-law had an acoustic neuroma that was operated on by the Mayo Clinic about 10 years ago and he has beenable to fly with no problems at all. They usually fly at least 5-10 times a year and he has never complained at all but I would also get a second opinion.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 07:13 AM
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Thanks all, and especially winerycat and maggi for the specific info.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 07:44 AM
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Youchhhh!!!!
I'd advise the flight crew of your mom's ear issue. They can provide the "hot wet paper towel in styrofoam cup" thing for her. It's supposed to be helpful in preventing ear pain during takeoff and landing but I'm not a doctor so this isn't a prescription.
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Old May 28th, 2004, 10:16 AM
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I have significant hearing loss and tinitus in one ear, along with equilibrium problems, sometimes vertigo. I've found that the tinitus actually seems to subside when flying and I can hear much better even using the earphones provided when usually I wouldn't ever use an earphone with my "bad" ear. I've never experienced any discomfort or other problems flying, but everyone is different. And, Doctors don't have all the answers.


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Old May 28th, 2004, 10:57 AM
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I am going out on a limb here and can offer you 2 pieces of advice:

1-Of course, ask another doctor.

2-It is unlikely that an antihistamine, styrofoam cup, etc. will make any difference at all. I have huge problems with ear pain during flying, and antihistamines help me because I have structural abnormalities of my sinuses, ears, throat due to allergies. However, your mom had a neuroma removed around the acoustic nerv and has resulting tinnitus and that is a neurological problems. It has nothing to do with pressure regulation in the inner ear chamber- the difficulties with pressure regulation occurs with those with chronic ear infections, allergies, and sinus problems and the like. It is my guess that your mom will be fine. Her problem, as you describe it, has nothing to do with her ability for her to regulate pressure in her inner ear. Equilibrium problems can be a result of the surgery itself and not necessarily involving the ear and/or the inablility to regulate pressure. An antihistamine probably cant hurt, but it probably wont help either.
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